Cumulative Days Riding: 167 Cumulative Days Blogging: 152
Today’s Mileage: 4 Total Trip Mileage: 1120
As I ride the bike this evening I am appreciative of the supportive comments made by my fellow pilgrims concerning yesterday’s posting. It is always nice to find out that you are not alone, especially when faced with the growing chorus of negative voices that surround us. At times like these it is easy to feel a tinge of hopelessness at the magnitude of the task that we face, in somehow turning back these negative, divisive forces.
I believe it is possible to turn around our nation’s slow decline into hatred and uncivil society, but it is not going to be easy. I believe that a desire to make this change is part of what has brought so many of us together networking to find “like minded” individuals, as I am fond of saying: Add enough small ripples together and you have a large wave, a wave for positive change!
Many people are familiar with the Humanistic Psychologist Abraham Maslow and his theory about the Hierarchy of Needs. At the bottom of the pyramid are the deficiency needs: Physical Needs, Safety Needs, Belonging Needs, and Esteem Needs. These needs are powerful and often demand our attention. If they are not being filled we feel an emptiness/deficiency until they are met. Appealing to these needs is often accomplished with emotional messages which may include: calls toward anger and resentment, threatening messages, heightening fears, announcements of scarcity, threats of banishment, questioning an individual’s values and motives, challenging their patriotism. We have seen some sad examples of these needs playing out in people’s lives like the young Irish girl who was bullied and badgered to the point of committing suicide. If you study the various signs and angry shouts of the Tea Party activist seen at televised rallies you see many blatant examples of these appeals.
At the top of Maslow’s hierarchy are the Being or Self-Actualized Needs. These are a diverse set of needs that differ for each person. They represent things like: Compassion, Beauty, Creativity, and Justice. These needs have a very subtle voice and are only heard when one quiets the deficiency needs or looks past these lower level needs. When someone asks: What would Jesus or Buddha do? When you hear or read the thoughts of the Dali Lama, Gandhi or Mother Theresa you are hearing a call toward an all embracing love and compassion for all people, these are the voices of the Being Needs.
I know I am not alone when I cringe at the loud emotional voices screaming at us from the papers, the radio, TV and internet. They call others names (e.g., socialists, baby killers, liars, illegal aliens, Islamofacists, etc.) and are not talking about finding common ground or solving the problems that face us. They present “Us versus Them” and/or “Win or Lose” scenarios that only divide peoples and communities, along racial, religious and economic lines.
I have included the Peanuts cartoon tonight because I think it points to a sad fact concerning these heightened emotional appeals. Some, perhaps many, people in fact enjoy being mad and angry. They do not wish to rise above their egotistical selfish needs. They may like the sense of immediate energy and power that strong negative emotions infuse them with. They may find meaning in the causes tied to these emotional statements (e.g., antiabortion, gun rights, anti-immigration).
How do we turn this situation around? I think we need to speak up with our opposing views and not let ourselves be shouted down. We need to challenge our churches to stand up for the positive loving values espoused by all of the faiths (e.g., follow the Golden Rule or better still the Platinum Rule). We need to engage independent/undecided citizen and educate them to our position. We need to work at making our lives, our relationships and our social movements shining lights and beacons for the Being Needs!
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