Fernando: Needs


THE most wanting need of Filipinos is certainly financial need. The common wishes of ordinary citizens are to be financially independent; have their own houses and cars. This is what we call success in the country.

We go to school thinking not so much of educating ourselves but to use this education as a means to have a job that could provide us adequate income. When we think of acquiring this financial freedom, we thought that we would not wish for anything more. When we get there, we realize we are wrong because we want more.

People has a lot of needs. Financial need is only one. Poor people think that money can satisfy all their needs in life. When rich people show discontent, many poor find it difficult to understand the situation because they think that the rich already have everything in life.

A wife would dream of having a dream house and more money to buy her wants and needs. The ultimate dream of a husband is to build a house and have a steady job for his family thinking that these two things are enough to make his family happy. Yet when poor people become rich, many would not still be contented. Why do rich people, despite their prosperity, cannot remain happy? It is because they still have other needs to be fulfilled.

According to Maslow, all human beings have five levels of needs to be satisfied and self-fulfilled people constantly get all five of these needs met. He saw these needs in a hierarchy; a list of ideas, values or objects from the lowest to the highest.

Level 1 is Physical Survival Needs. This is the need for food, drink, shelter, sleep and oxygen. If a person cannot satisfy this basic survival need it dominates their interest and concern. A person who is cold, sick or hungry will not be very interested in socializing, learning or working. We understand why people who cannot provide this basic needs do not find time to entertain the other levels of needs like socialization such as going to a party, participating in gatherings and events because they are so much focused on the basic survival needs.

Level 2 is Physical Safety Needs. Once the physical survival needs are met, a new set of needs emerges. The physical survival needs still exist, but having these needs satisfied regularly, a person becomes aware of the next level of human need – physical safety. Can we hear poor people complaining much about the danger of their environment? Perhaps we do, but it is not the greatest of their concern. They talk more about where to get food for their next meal. People who have met their basic needs begin to understand their needs of physical safety. They talk more about the danger of living in a criminally-laden society. They talk more of their freedom to do what they want. They demand space when they think their relationship with others are not healthy anymore.

Level 3 is the Love and Belonging Needs. Once the physical survival and safety needs are being regularly met, a need for love, affection and belonging begin to emerge. Level 3 needs result from the fact that human beings are sociable and need relationships with others.

Maslow states: “The person ... will hunger for affectionate relationships with people in general for a place in the group.” Why do many people despite being rich, cheat in a relationship. Cheating happens because they think their need of affection and belongingness are not being met.

Again this need is only entertained once the two first levels of needs are fulfilled. I was not shocked when a news broke about a seaman’s wife having an illicit affair.

She felt the need of attention and affection she thinks she does not experience in the present relationship. She did not feel this need before even it was there because she was so focused on the financial aspect.

When she had the financial problem solved, that’s when her body started feeling it. My mother was wondering what the woman could ask for when she almost have everything in receiving a lot of money monthly.

Financial need is just the first level of the human beings’ needs. But can the woman not to be blamed in cheating because her needs are not satisfied? Yes, she can be blamed. It is because her infidelity is out of context.

She could have understand the situation realizing the nature of her husband’s job. She could have redirect her need by focusing on raising their child. She could have understand the sacrifices of her husband.

Level 4 is Self-esteem Needs. It is a degree of self-respect and respect from others. Self-respect includes the need for confidence, achievement, independence and freedom. Respect from others includes recognition, attention and appreciation. Level 5 is Self-fulfilled (Self-actualized).

If the first four needs are being met, a new one will probably develop: the need for self-fulfillment. This is to become more what a person can be: to develop all aspects – physical, social, emotional and spiritual. We only see these needs when the first three levels are met. Usually, we do not get to these fourth and fifth levels because many of us do not meet the first three levels of needs. Being rich only satisfy the first basic needs so it does not guarantee that wealthy people are happy.

As human beings we desire to meet all these basic needs. It is a human nature anyway. The bad thing is when we do not know how to put these needs in context. For instance, a person who has in need of money and to satisfy his/her need of survival such as food he/she may resort to robbery which is unlawful. People who feel threatened may resort to murder. Or people in a relationship may cheat on their husbands and wives to feel the affection they long for. These are all out of context. We must satisfy and fulfill our needs in ways that do not harm or endanger the lives of others.

The only thing that can suppress or control all these needs is the mind. Contentment is a product of the mind. The mind affects the emotion that is why even if we don’t satisfy these needs, we can always say enough.

Lust can be the product of a misguided need of affection but we can control this feeling when our mind understands the wrongness of infidelity or adultery. This is not depriving ourselves of our basic needs. It is only doing justice to our dignity as human beings.

People have different levels of basic needs. For Maslow, the satisfaction of all these needs results to happiness. This is true when we fulfill our needs using positive means. But if we try to realize these needs in a selfish manner, we will never have a taste of true happiness.


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