I came across this story of kids in first year of primary school discussing a picture of a family. A little boy in the picture had a different hair colour than the others in the family. One of the kids said that he was probably adopted. His classmate, a little girl, declared, ‘I know all about adoption, I was adopted.’
“What does it mean to be adopted?” asked another child.
“It means”, said the little girl, “that you grew in your mummy’s heart instead of her tummy!”
What a wonderful story! We immediately understand what the little girl was saying. Our hearts define who we are, not our minds. As human beings, each with our own thoughts and feelings, what we seek above all else are relationships of love and trust, where we can feel safe to be ourselves and grow to be what we can be.
I am sure many of us would have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation,” hypothesized that the needs of human beings lie in a hierarchy where once one level of needs is met, the next higher level of needs gains prominence. Maslow identified five levels of needs:
- Biological and Physiological Needs (e.g. food, air, water, shelter)
- Safety Needs (e.g. security, stability, law and order)
- Love Needs (e.g. family, friends, a sense of belonging)
- Esteem Needs (e.g. status, reputation, achievement)
- Self-Actualisation Needs (e.g. the realisation of one’s potential)
Not everyone agrees with Maslow’s thesis, though most of the argument has been about whether the various needs actually fall in a hierarchy, or are in fact present all the time though in varying degrees for people in different circumstances or situations. However, it is interesting to note that further research in this field concludes that human beings also have:
- Cognitive Needs (e.g. understanding)
- Aesthetic Needs (e.g. beauty, balance)
- Transcendence Needs (i.e. helping others realise their potential)
Placed in order, the eight needs then stack up as:
- Biological and Physiological Needs
- Safety Needs
- Love Needs
- Esteem Needs
- Cognitive Needs
- Aesthetic Needs
- Self-Actualisation Needs
- Transcendence Needs
It is interesting that the highest need of all is the need to contribute good to other people’s lives. May we all experience for ourselves this highest need for our hearts, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, to love our neighbours as ourselves.