Most of us would agree that food, shelter and water are the most basic of our needs. Beyond this, most of us would disagree as to which needs are more important – it depends on the person and the circumstance I guess.
I think you can adhere to a simple, yet, powerful advice from the wise Marcus Aurelius –
“if it is not right, don’t do it: if it is not true, don’t say it”
Maslow’s hierarchy pyramid puts these most basic of human needs in a category called “physiological needs” along with sex. There are 5 levels and we progress to the next level only when the lower levels are satisfied.
There are safety needs and then belonging/love needs (which includes family, friends and sexual intimacy). From there we strive to satisfy our ‘esteem’ needs and beyond that we reach ‘self-actualization’ needs. Only 1 in 100 people actually reach this level according to Maslow.
I wrote about the most fundamental of human existence in a previous blog and that is – ‘freedom’. A big word this is and can be defined in many different ways.
Every one of us live in fear in one form or another, every day as we go about our lives. Fear comes in many forms and when it exists, freedom is sacrificed. I would go on to say that there are many societies in the world today whose people actually accept and are content to live under fear.
It is amazing that in today’s world where technology is changing at an exponential rate, some of the most basic of human needs like freedom are not or have not changed for the better in centuries.
One such human need that is taken away when freedom is removed is ‘dignity’. This is usually the result of control through fear.
To be a complete human, however, I believe each and every one of us need to be allowed to live our lives with dignity. When people live in fear or when freedom is taken away, their ‘human-ness’ is taken away and this is experienced at different levels.
The very essence of feeling human is lost. One loses his/her dignity where the very foundation of what it means to be ‘human’ is swept away from under you. You lose control over your existence and destiny.
This is one of the worst feelings one could ever have to endure while being alive. This, I believe, is worse than going without food or water. Dignity is a far more important need.
Being deprived of dignity for a prolonged period increases the risk of losing hope. And when you lose hope, you lose the desire to live. Not a good place to be.
If you went without food and water for long enough, you will die. If your freedom was taken away from you long enough, you will either die or become rebellious. The significant difference between these deaths is that if you die without food and water, you can still die with dignity.
We all need to live and die with dignity.
It is a need. A most basic, most fundamental need.
So, stop for a few seconds and say a prayer for all those people in societies (including ours) all around the world who live in fear and who are deprived of the need to live their daily lives with dignity.
Pray that they may find the courage and fortitude to continue seeking this very essence of self-actualization that Maslow refers to. Pray that they be given the very thing that makes them fully human. Pray that they get their dignity back.
If they aren’t given their dignity back, pray that they take it back. Let us all pray that each and every one of them garner enough voice to say ‘no’ to the injustice they experience. The word ‘no’ is perhaps the greatest expression of human dignity possible.
Say ‘no’ to any form of control through fear!
Let us pray that they gather enough wisdom to know that you cannot find without seeking. You cannot hear without listening and not having the luxury of saying no and enough is enough is to make worthless any acts of seeking or hearing or doing.
Effort alone is not enough.
You must believe and hope that freedom from all forms of fear is possible and deserving of you.
Choose to say ‘no’ to anyone or anything that forces you to be someone you’re not. Keep your dignity. Don’t sell your soul.
Be yourself – always.
Live. Die. With dignity.
Until next time,