At some point in your education, you may have learned about a psychological theory called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The theory is often shown in a five-tier pyramid, with basic physiological needs at the bottom and self-actualization at the top. Abraham Maslow’s idea was that, in general, we can’t advance to the next level of personal fulfillment until the previous level is met.
I’d venture to say much of my time, and yours, is dedicated to self-actualization ~ realizing our personal growth and potential. We are fortunate to have our basic needs met, so we are free to pursue loftier goals.
But if disaster struck, how quickly we would slide down that pyramid. We wouldn’t give a fig about self-actualization!
Last weekend our power went out during a rain storm. Mike and I stopped everything we were doing, lit candles, gathered flashlights, and checked our food supply. The outage lasted less than an hour, but it briefly upended our priorities and concerns.
Later in the week, we learned 2,975 people lost their lives in Puerto Rico last year as a result of Hurricane Maria. By the end of the week, Hurricane Florence was ravaging the Carolinas.
Nature offers such peace and beauty, but there is wisdom to be garnered from the raging storms, too.
We remember what’s important. When forced to evacuate, people grab each other, pets, and maybe a few sentimental items. The house, furnishings, decorations, clothing, jewelry, and electronics are all just things. It makes us question if any of that stuff was ever getting us closer to self-fulfillment.
We realize we’re all the same. In a disastrous situation, we get a taste of the lives of those who struggle daily for nutritious food, potable water, and safe shelter. Social and economic status can make human beings seem very different from one another, but in truth, we all have the same basic needs and desires.
We rely upon our resourcefulness. There’s a reason why television shows and movies about survival are popular. They challenge us to think about our ability to meet our basic needs without depending on modern conveniences. Storms, of all kinds, test our physical, mental, and spiritual strength
We are put in our place. Most of us like to feel we’ve got it together and are in control of our lives. It’s all smooth sailing, and then WHAM! Stormy weather reminds us we can’t control everything. Sometimes we have to surrender and have faith the storm will pass, and the sun will shine again.
We need each other. Maslow’s theory includes the human need for love and belonging. In times of disaster, there are always stories of people helping people, reminding us of the good in humanity and in ourselves.
You can help people affected by Hurricane Florence and other devastating storms by donating to the American Red Cross at http://www.redcross.org.