Thursday, August 02, 2007
Do You REALLY Want It?
Today's blog is about you. It is about me. and it is about choice, and more importantly, action.
Above we see Maslow's hierarchy of needs; often just called Maslow's pyramid. What is truly striking about this schematic is how many of these levels we have acheived as a society, and yet how unhappy we all seem to be.
At the base of the pyramid are physiological needs (hunger, thirst, and sex). The first 2 (especially for most of us in North America) are an afterthought. We already have them. The third one, well that's just complicated, and while we may WANT more, our needs are basically met.
The next level (Safety Needs) includes shelter and protection. While homelessness is a major issue, and public safety also; the percentage of people whom share this as their primary concern day to day is remarkably low.
The third level is of social needs; a sense of belonging and love. We'll come back to this...
The fourth level is esteem needs - self esteem, recognition, and status.
The fifth level is self actualization. That is, the acheivement of one's potential or purpose.
So, especially for anyone who will actually read this - having a computer and the freedom to peruse self - actualization pursuits means the first 2 levels have inevitably been acheived.
Here is our problem at stage 3. A sense of belonging and love. What does that mean? Solid family values, a close knit family, strong social ties, and a sense of community are what this level is all about. Let's face the facts - straight up- our society is fucked. Being that society is the collective entity of our community interests and state of well-being; if society is fucked than so fucked must be our communities.
So we start out as lost souls searching for self esteem, status, and belonging. And how do we acheive this? We play right into the hands of the corporate machine, and we buy what Paris or Lindsay wore to their latest social gala. We iPod and Blackberry and Gucci our asses into an empty void that was supposed to fill us with a sense of belonging. Esteem maybe - "that pretentious asshole paid a compliment to my $400 jeans, so now I feel a temporary sense of esteem!"
and then we wonder at the lack of a sense of purpose we feel, or how self actualization is a buzz word thrown around by philosophers and psycology majors, not for a Dad with bills and a job.
Are we listening to ourselves??? We deviate from the path that is clearly laid out, we don't reach our destination, and then we call bullshit on the road map. And why? Because our forefathers who never had as many 'esteem' material goods as we do busted their asses to provide the first two levels for us.
The funny (and by that I mean sad) part is, broke as many of them were, their selfless, yet purposeful work led many of them to a state of fulfilled happiness (and self actualization) while their decendants reaped the spoils (materially speaking) and have no idea how to do the same for ourselves, let alone our children.
But go ahead and support the "save Lindsay" campaigns as we collectively become enablers instead of obeying the law of natural selection that (as Scott has pointed out the last 2 Fridays) must apply to every species BUT us....
...or you could take a closer look at the road map and realize that in order to get to stage 5, you need to learn a few lessons at stage 3 to set you on the path again; thus bettering you and your offspring to never forget the lessons our forefathers assumed we would never forget (let alone never learn in the first place). If you fail to read the map or pay attention, you don't get there and the world passes you by (as it should).
The last point is- I bet Maslow used a pyramid because in order to reach the top, each previous level must be built on a solid foundation, and thus in order to reach the top(self actualization) no step in the process can be skipped. But if you know something Maslow didn't, keep buying the $400 jeans, because maybe they will fill your life with a sense of deep and meaningful purpose after all...