Last night as I lay in bed drifting off to sleep my mind continued to hum, keeping rhythm with the vaporizer pumping moisture into the dry air. I was thinking about war. I know that sounds like such an odd lullaby. I was thinking specifically about what causes war, whether waged between nations, or between siblings or between children in middle school.
Four words formed in my mind and kept running through slowly like a mantra; greed, creed, need, and unresolved grief. I tried moving them around, changing the order to see if there was an order. I discovered there was, and it began with need.
We need. Human beings have basic needs for food shelter, clean air and water, and then we have emotional need to be loved, recognized, to belong, to feel a part of. And then we have more esoteric or spiritual needs like the need for purpose, understanding, knowledge, the need to learn and discover.
I remember Maslow’s hierarchy and all of my own puzzle play with the jigsaw of human needs. Initially, from studying Maslow and others, I visualized these needs as a staircase to heaven–fill the belly, fill the heart, fill the spirit. Then one time I read somewhere (sadly I can’t remember where—I think it was Rollo May) that just because a person is hungry, it doesn’t mean that he or she does not have vision or reach.
Later, I spent years considering Joseph Chilton Pearce’s tight focus on the need for mother/infant bonding. He drew an interesting matrix of triangles, one embedded into another with the inner triangle being the bond between infant and mother and moving outward from there–infant to father and family, to community, to country, to world, to universe or spirit.
It is such a simple diagram, but Pearce said that all the outer triangles depend upon successful bonding of the one just before it. If the infant fails to bond with mother, it weakens or distorts all future bonding. I hated this premise when I read it and still hate it today, but my heart fears it is true. Pearce wrote of the way an unbonded child (read—essential need unmet) will begin immediately to “attach” to stuff like a blanket, a pacifier, a toy, a certain corner of the room. Is this the headwaters of need, the place where need becomes greed?
Now, skip ahead and put the unbonded child at the head of a nation, a corporation, or an army. Need leads to greed. It is a much simplified picture, but if we are to understand war itself, somehow we have to find its most simple essence.
Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t write too much in a blog post—that I will tax your time and patience, but the result (for me) is feeling like I don’t dive into the depths of what I want to say, that I skim the surface looking for the quick bites. This sounds like a fishing metaphor—or a lake metaphor. I want the deepest part of the sea. I want to see where dark shapes move and thin quick things slither by almost unnoticed. And I want readers who are willing to dive with me. This is the first of four posts. I plan to explore the four words (one phrase) more deeply.
On a practical level—what do you need? What needs are going unmet? Do you feel safe? Do you feel cherished? Do you feel that you have a voice, a bit of power, the opportunity to explore and discover beyond this moment? It is our human nature that these needs change every day, so we have to ask the question again and again. How am I doing today? What do I need? Be assured—it is not more stuff. Let me hear how you are doing. Leave a comment or subscribe to my weekly (mostly) posts by adding an email address below.
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