02 IMG 5971In 1943, Psychological Review published a paper by Abraham Maslow called "A Theory of Human Motivation." Today, this work is better known as "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs." It uses a pyramid of needs to describe what motivates humans, based on their basic, psychological and self-fulfillment needs.

At the foundation of Maslow's pyramid are physiological needs: food, water, sleep, shelter, clothing and reproduction. Safety needs are the next highter level in the pyramind and include emotional, financial and personal well-being.

Maslow's other needs include belongingness, love and esteem. At the top of the pyramid is self-actualization. Self-actualization is that place in life when a person has reached their full potential. Here is where they find that place in life called "joy."

As a community, we are far from self-actualization. And we are coming up short on many fronts when it comes to belongingness, love and esteem as well. Locally, our preoccupation with the pandemic, civil unrest, unemployment, racial divisions, social justice and criminal justice all play on our collective psyche and create frustration accompanied by fears of a collapsing society. This sows seeds for further misunderstanding and conflict.

I recently took a photo of the Market House in historic downtown Fayetteville. This nationally recognized landmark is now fenced-in — a visual metaphor reflecting our recent turbulent times. I wonder how residents and visitors view and interpret the fence that surrounds it. And the circumstances that led to the fence going up. Does the fence protect the Market House from people who want it destroyed because they view it as a symbol of hatred and suppression? Is it being used to keep people from enjoying it as an iconic backdrop for happy and fun events like family outings, weddings and graduations? Or, does it keep our growing homeless population from using it as an overnight shelter?

With no access to the building, residents wonder what platform the Arts Council will use to celebrate its traditional Dicken's Holiday, which traditionally ushers in the holiday season. Perhaps the fence will stay up for years and become known as the infamous Fayetteville Wall. Maybe the building will become the Fayetteville Market Jail.

No matter how it is defined, it is an uncomplimentary reminder that no one will enjoy the Market House in its current state.

Today, basic human decency seems to be under attack almost everywhere you turn. It is a shame that people call their friends and family names like "fascist" or "communist" based on their political preferences. How are so many willing to sacrifice lifeling relationships on the altar of politics and division?

Meanwhile, our current candidates differ greatly in their views about how to move forward as a nation and as a society. As citizens and constituents, it seems like we do, too. Both political parties/candidates should represent and define those things that are essential to every American — the basics such as food, clean water, shelter, safety and security. These should have the highest priority and should be the issues they address first. Americans should vote for whomever best represents their beliefs of what is best for them, their family, community and country.

This upcoming election would serve everyone much better if all politicians focused on solutions that pursue Maslow's basic needs for their constituents, especially safety and security. This would guarantee a stable, safe and secure American way of life no matter who is elected and would enable us to experience more joy and less fear.

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