I was sitting at my desk today, occupied a very difficult crossword puzzle, when I began to contemplate the nature of what it means to be human.
Not just a simple human being, but a contributor to wider society, as not just a walking empty body, but a voice in a choir that contributes to a beautiful song that all ears deserve to hear, regardless of economic status or race.
One important philosophy that is neglected in schools where young minds learn and grow – one that is potentially ignored due to racial reasons, but I am not one to accuse – is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. A brilliant philosopher on par with Immanuel Kant or the great Karl Popper, Maslow illuminated the truth behind the birth of a human being as a thinking, contributing entity. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, he shows us that humans have certain needs that must be met in order for the individual to radiate brilliance, much like that Dr. MacHattan, in, I believe the recent movie is called, The Scotchmen.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be thought of as a grand pyramid, where the human sojourner climbs from the bottom to the top, reaching incremental stages of growth until his highest potential is reached. If one cannot have one level of the pyramid met, then such a person would be stunted and stuck on his or her path to mental enlightenment.
On the very bottom pillar, the very basics of human needs must be meet in a person’s journey towards greatness. These include the necessities, such as food, water, and shelter. In addition, a person must have plenty of oxygen in order to breathe, and not to mention a proper place to evacuate one’s bowels without mucking up the vicinity. Without these, a person remains as a victim, a victim of elitist Adam Smith types with no concern for human dignity. We can see that many in the third world go without these basic necessities deserved by all, and as such places are usually in Sub-Saharan Africa, one with a discerning mind can quite easily understand the plot of the economic elite in shutting down the very core aspect of the underprivileged minority, in his or her uniqueness and culture.
Rising up this fantastic mountain of philosophical ingenuity, we come to the next stage of humanity: the need for morality, stability, and health, among other things, in the grand scale of this stage. Moral people who recognize it as a categorical imperative to treat each and every human with respect, without bigotry, without slander, and especially without harboring an all-encompassing hatred of a group of people despite superstitious beliefs implanted by those with nefarious agendas. Here, the individual has a stable foundation of his wider placement in life, to live life liberally, for the good of himself, and for the good of all people.
And climbing up – like a rugged mountain man or woman traversing the path to human potential, all-the-while dodging the falling boulders of slimy bigotry – are the two upper steps for the last: friendship, family, sexuality, respect by others, respect for others, and confidence in one’s own unique abilities. Here is where the human begins his first few steps into achieving a higher state of mind, where his passion for others changes him from a greedy, capitalistic reactionary, into a diversity-accepting, racially tolerant people person. The individual becomes an open-minded revolutionary, making new friends of unlike people, and respects others of different statuses.
One thing that I believe, personally, is the importance of human sexuality, at this stage: the individual becomes more open to the grander scheme of things, and no longer sees race as a barrier to be overcome, but as one to openly embrace. One begins to seek sexual partners of different colors and creeds, to learn from and grow, like a flower blooming for the first time. The moment black and white merge to form not gray, but a rainbow of thought and passion, mixing and merging and mashing and forming a gestalt where the sum of both races/creeds exceeds to sum of its parts.
Separate, we are weak, but together, far stronger than even the atomic bonds of a molecule. When we look into the eyes of a child, of diverse heritage, we see the beginning of a truly self-actualized human being, who can transcend the bigotry of his day and age by being the product of two great heritages, than simply one.
In addition, one unrelated to the deeply important cultural role, is the very specific need of human power. Not one based upon bigotry and larceny, but one based on surrendering trust to another human being. My friend, Chet, a very intelligent man who understands the deep importance of a liberal society, is a fan of what he calls “BDSM.” BDSM, which stands for Bondage, Domination, Sadism, and Masochism, tells me about how we can channel our naturally greedy human impulses into a positive sexual force where the outcome becomes trust and not evil manipulation. BDSM involves surrendering one’s egotistical desires, so I am told, in an intimate sexual ritual where both parties come out stronger and more tolerant of humanity of a whole. Or so my dear friend Chet proclaims, but it would be mean-spirited to disbelieve him. This is important in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, as trust is a deeply important facet of the human condition. Such is lacking in our bigoted, slanderous society of those who malign the underprivileged.
So now that we have discussed everything important regarding of who we are, as people, as humans, we finally reach the top of the great triangle. This is morality, creativity, and our very utter lack of prejudice against ALL human beings. Excepting, of course, those who wish to push us down the pyramid like a racist bully pushing an African-American child down a steep hill. This is where we, if we are white, surrender our racist instincts into looking at other races as equals, as people to respect and love like any other. Or, if we are, perhaps, Black, Asian, Latino/Latina, or whatnot, we see each other as comrades against the forces which seek to destroy us. All of us – from black, white, and especially Jew – understand the necessity of forming morality to fit a wide frame of thought, one all encompassing as to prohibit bigotry, thus see all human beings as equal, and recognize the racist folly of focusing solely on our own kind, merge with others unlike us, so that we may, one day ( I hope! ) be One instead of many.
When one understands and has all the needs that are necessary to be not just a human, but something more, is when justice has been served. One day there will be more than just random stragglers reaching self-actualization, but entire societies, one by one, until all of humanity becomes strengthened and embolden with the love for one another where no longer one single person is important, but each and every human being.
Our potential will be unlimited in equality and in sacrificing our excesses for the sake of others. If we shake off our greed, bigotry, and misconceptions, then we can truly rise as a species, and be what a human was to a neanderthal. And as I finished my crossword puzzle while contemplating this, I could only think of it as either ironic or fate that the final word I needed to write in was “acceptance.”