Happy Friday! What a week of intense learning and unlearning – so apropos as we return to school this week.
In a conversation with a friend, she pointed out how American society values productivity and promptness over kindness and care. Like, someone will dangerously cut off another person in traffic in order to get to a meeting on time.
I couldn’t agree more.
We are completely obsessed with our relationships with time and money which are 100% human-made concepts while completely disregarding community and connection with nature, which are foundational to our happiness and existence. Our values are hyper-focused on the individual, having the most money and making it as quickly as possible. We say hell with the consequences on other people or the environment.
If we removed the concept of “every man for himself,” our culture would look completely different. And if applied on an individual level, our lives would look completely different.
I learned today from a new friend, who is in a course I’m part of, that Maslow (as in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) was influenced by the Siksika (Blackfoot) culture. I think about Maslow’s hierarchy often and my world is really rocked in the best of ways after reading that article. I love and appreciate the idea that the state of self-actualization is not the peak achieved by an individual, but instead, it is seen as a state that we are born into and is constantly sustained and supported by community. This is truly affirming to some ideas I’ve had rolling around in my head and changing the way I’m seeing my work and the world at large.
Growing up in an immigrant family, it was absolutely fact that my extended family wouldn’t have survived without each other. My childhood was not centered on a nuclear household but centered on survival together. (I’m realizing I have not YET written about how I believe the nuclear family is one of the most, if not the most, toxic aspect of “modern” culture…more to come on that.)
The article linked also states that Maslow never portrayed his hierarchy as a pyramid. The pyramid makes it a very linear process where the above layer can only be reached once the layer(s) below it are achieved. It plays into a binary idea of achievement. The writer shares that Seneca First Nation member and psychologist, Terry Cross, suggested for this model to be circular and layered.
“A circular model captures the inter-relatedness of our needs and helps highlight that we can experience needs simultaneously and in changing order. This way of viewing needs makes more sense when seeing an individual as deeply rooted in a community, especially because a community is capable of meeting multiple needs in parallel. While one individual is cooking, another may be keeping children safe, while another may be negotiating peace with people from other tribes.”
I’ll leave that quote for you as food for thought as you enter your weekend. As always, if you’ve got any thoughts…
I’d love to hear,