Needs! What’s more important to you?


Every time I come across a news article that hints on the foils of a political figure, the anarchy of their rein or the decadence of their lifestyle, the poverty and famine that a certain community is enduring, or the riots and revolution in a state, I inadvertently reflect on Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs.

The theory talks about the path an individual would take in fulfilling one’s needs. Starting at the bottom of the pyramid, the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter would need to be fulfilled initially followed by the need to be safe & secure. Once that is fulfilled to a comfortable extent, the focus is on fulfilling the need for belongingness. After that is the need for self-esteem, the need to be recognized by society as well as the need to have a healthy self respect and finally, self actualization.

In order to get to the next level of needs, the initial ones would need to be fulfilled. For instance, someone whose basic need for food is not fulfilled and for whom hunger always looms in the horizon will not give thought to the next level of needs such as safety or maintaining relationships until hunger is taken care of. Once a need is fulfilled, focus shifts to fulfilling the next level of needs.

Physiological needs, the need to remain safe and the need for love are all needs based on deprivation or rather are physical in nature. These can actually chisel the kind of person one is going to be in terms of their behavior, nature and outlook towards life. The other 2 needs are more psychological in nature. They are fulfilled for psychological satisfaction, not physical.

When I read these articles, I always ponder on where the fine line is between these. A politician is way beyond the first 3 needs or perhaps, at least the first 2. But, then the thirst for the last 2 needs seems in quenchable. Ironically, they seem to see themselves on a higher plane trying to satisfy their self esteem and self actualization needs but they do it through hoarding for the other 3 needs!

So, what are they doing? Are they working on their higher needs or are they trapped working through their 3 lower needs all through their lives and careers?

I think the answer is that they never evolve to the stage where they can ponder on their higher level needs and the fear of their lower level deprivations is so strong that they never rid themselves of the need to satisfy these. What do you think?

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