Using Abraham Maslow’s
Perspective for Finding Common Ground
Charles “Al” Huth
The strife in our country is harmful and deadly. Distrust, hate, misinformation, and conspiracy theories are displayed on social media and featured in conversations with friends and family. Many things appear to be out of kilter and conflicted. The question is: What is creating this, and what changes can be made to create a society where everyone can thrive in peace and harmony?
I believe there are many people just like me who live comfortably but feel depressed with the turmoil that surrounds them. They feel the anxiety and stress of others. This enduring empathy for others drains their energy, energy that could be used for more life-enhancing endeavors. We wonder what will happen to our children and grandchildren. Consider Lincoln’s well-known statement that a house divided cannot stand. Without peace, justice, and equal opportunity for all, these conflicts will remain unresolved.
While thinking about this situation, I wanted to come up with a name or concept that would reflect any group of people (like myself) who are focused on creating solutions. For now, I have decided on Altruistic Consortium or Humanitarianism until another name appears more compelling or appropriate. This group would be open to all, regardless of their gender, race, culture, political stance, religious or spiritual orientation. The objective would be finding common ground; identifying and understanding the truth of our existence would be crucial. Our core truth sets us free to live in peace and harmony with everyone.
Individually, when one experiences overwhelming tragedy, finding a purpose to pursue can be a saving grace. Healing the past can be enhanced by finding purpose for one’s being. Together, if we can connect with and identify ourselves, I believe that we can develop solutions that, in the long term, can bring equality for everyone. This will require clarity of thought and the pursuit of a unifying purpose as a community.
Typical Characteristics of a Humanitarian:
- Is sensitive to the feelings of others; is empathetic.
- Understands that depression consumes energy and weakens one’s spirit.
- Realizes that division, hatred, and distrust create dysfunction in our relationships and in society.
- Tries to connect with and follow their internal guidance.
- Has a need to connect with other like-minded persons. It is our nature to be social and not separated.
- Has a passion to know the truth of our being at its core.
Do you fit into this general criterion?
Do you have something to add (or subtract) to these generalizations?
Abraham Maslow is known for theories that stimulated the development of humanistic psychology. His philosophy is more concerned with human potential then with personality disorders. It seeks ways to promote self-development and personal growth.
He believed people are born inherently good, with an inner motivation toward fulfilling their potential. They become cruel, abnormal, or destructive when their environment blocks or frustrates this inner nature.
Maslow is famous for his theory on the Hierarchy of Needs, often described as a triangle in reverse order of importance:
- physical needs – food, water, warmth, rest (most important)
- safety needs – security and safety
- belonging and love needs – intimate relationships, friends
- esteem needs – feelings of accomplishment and prestige
- self-fulfillment needs – self-actualization.
According to Maslow these are the growth steps to becoming self-actualized. Self-actualization is fulfilling your personal potential.
It seems logical to me that the underlying dynamic of people who commit acts of harm to others, or are disconnected from others, are frustrated regarding their ability to reach their full potential. This frustration can be the result of many different factors. It would be helpful to identify these factors and have society address them. Some of these mitigating factors may be:
- insufficient educational opportunities
- religious constraints or expectations
- insufficient justice
- childhood trauma, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
These are issues that can be (at least partially) resolved by society. There is no loss in doing this; everybody and everything would be enhanced. Raising the water level will raise all the boats.
Abraham Maslow found that self-actualized people experience more moments of intense happiness and wonder than most other people, they become less conscious of themselves, and they feel more spontaneous and in touch with the world.
Some human enhancements for social growth that would benefit everyone might include:
- Free education extended to four years of college or technical/vocational training. A high school education is no longer sufficient in a highly advanced society.
- Respect and dignity as a human being and fellow citizen. This does not necessarily mean that there is total agreement between all humans.
- Recognition that we are social beings who best thrive when working together. This acknowledges the concept of Oneness.
- Recognizing that diversity in society is an important asset.
- Proper nutrition, shelter, and medical availability for everyone.
Consider the fact that anger is the result of fear. Fear is a function of assuming a loss. If our fears can be addressed and understood as an underlying dynamic, then effective solutions become more probable. First, each person must determine the nature and validity of their own fears; we must name them. Secondly, we must have empathy for and understanding of the fears of others. Next, we must provide support, comfort, and if necessary, therapies to dissolve or lessen each fear. Together we can develop strategies to address these issues in our communities. Division between us will not provide effective solutions.
An ongoing spirit of Americans was developed out of the unexplored, unsettled wilderness of this country. It took courage and guts to go into an unknown land to settle it. This required overcoming fear of the unknown to chase a dream – the dream of freedom and land ownership for ordinary people. Elsewhere in the world, land was owned by a few wealthy people or their rulers. The people who worked the land were poor with little to say about how they wanted to live. There was no possibility of upward mobility. There was no middle class.
This individual free spirit was a necessary component for the development of our country. However, this spirit has overlooked an important dynamic of our current society – the reality of our true nature. Quantum physics clearly expresses the interconnection between all people and our environment. Energetically, there is no separation; therefore, everything is inter-dependent and affected by everything. The concept of Oneness is our reality. If we focus on diversity and unity, common ground can be found. Functioning from our true core is the basis for providing peace and prosperity for everyone.
If we could generate enough support for this approach or something better, healing the divide in our communities becomes possible. I believe that common ground can be achieved. The question becomes: What do you believe? What are your ideas regarding building common ground? Are you willing to share them and support them? Would you like to be included in a group such as I have described above?
If your answer is yes, my contact information is:
or Website: www.Lighthouse-Empowerment.com