Photo by Ricardo Resende on Unsplash

Watchet, Somerset, UK, 19th April 2020 22:01

Today is 4 weeks since the UK went into lockdown and, at present, there seems to be a lot of talk around protection. The first thing that pops into mind when I hear this word is protection from contagion. Personal protection equipment (PPE) has become the latest political hot potato. Protect the NHS, etc. I understand and and welcome the talk around this kind of protection.

But there seems to be another kind of talk around protection. There are rightwing extremists demonstrating in America against lockdown with slogans such as “protect our jobs”, “protect our rights to bear arms” and “protect our freedom”.

There are also those voices in business and politics who talk about protecting the economy and protecting business growth and jobs.

And there are also those voices who speak of protecting the vulnerable and frail, as well as protecting the environment.

It is clear that we all understanding the concept of protection but we differ in our opinion of what it is that needs protecting. Usually what we value is what we feel needs protecting and there are millions of differing opinions around what is valuable.

When it comes to things I value, or that I think are of value, I have always found it useful to ask myself the following question: is this something I want or is it something I need? If it’s something that I need, then it has a different kind of value, one which is essential for me to achieve what the Humanists called Self-Actualisation.

This was an idea first developed by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. They believed that humans (and all other living things) are born with the capacity to reach their full potential and that all creatures have an innate drive towards those things which will help us get there. For example, an infant seeks warmth, nurture, food and protection instinctually when they are born.

Abraham Maslow came up with the idea of the Hierarchy of Needs, which is often depicted as a pyramid.

On the bottom layer of it are our basic physiological needs such as food, drink, warmth, sex, excretion, etc.

On the next layer are our safety needs. Personal, emotional, financial safety. Security of shelter and health.

Above this are our social needs: family, friendship, love, community, belonging, emotional intimacy, etc.

Next are our self-esteem needs. The need for recognition, status, importance, and respect from others, as well as the internal need of valuing and respecting ourselves.

At the top of the pyramid is self-actualisation, where we meet our full potential.

Maslow theorised that, in order to get to the top, all the needs below need to be satisfied to an adequate degree and that therefore we move up and down the pyramid in different stages of our lives, even our days, meeting the needs that are required at that step on the ladder to meaningful contentment.

It would be fair to say that, at present, a lot of our attention is moving between the first three steps: trying to meet our basic physiological needs whilst staying safe in physical and mental health. We are also focusing a lot of energy worrying about job and financial safety. There is also a significant proportion of time spent on our social needs whose importance has been highlighted by the imposed social distancing.

The global quarantine has created a shift from focusing significant amounts of thought, effort and energy on getting what we want (stuff, likes on Facebook, status and money), towards getting what we actually need (basic body needs, safety and connection). I don’t think that this is a bad thing at all.

Yesterday, the Rolling Stones appeared on the One World Together at Home live stream, signing “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you get what you need”. Let’s keep that motto running in the background when we get to the other side please.

Good night all

OneLove OneHeart

Tonight’s choice of music is by Massive Attack: Protection

World-wide confirmed cases: 2,394,278

World-wide deaths: 164,937

World-wide recovered: 611,878

UK confirmed cases: 121,172

UK deaths: 16,095

UK recovered: 436


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