On our way to the Stars

Dear Editor,

From passion a miracle begins: the fertilisation of an egg by sperm. This egg, this sperm unpredictable – a chance meeting.

A frenzied cell division begins, the biological process fashioning a human - born to the tears and pain of its mother and innocent to the reception that awaits.

There has been a struggle from the instant of the union of sperm and egg and so the miracle is ongoing to deliver a healthy baby. This baby has a bloodline going back to the very beginning of our species – one successful mating after another biologically passing the genes on from one generation to the next.

In 1943 psychologist Abraham Maslow published an article entitled, ` A Theory of Human Motivation which argued that human needs fall into a few basic categories arranged in a hierarchy. At the most primitive level man needs to survive.

Withhold food from a man, and food will be what he most wants. Freedom, love, community feeling, respect and philosophy all mean nothing on an empty stomach.

When enough food is available, other needs surface. The person is dominated and their behaviour is controlled by their unmet needs.

Maslow identified five categories of need and ranked them in this order;  1 Physiological needs (food, water, shelter and sex)

2 The need for safety (predictability, order, protection from physical harm)

3 The need for intimacy ( to belong and associate with others, friendship and family- a partner and children)

4 The need for esteem (self-respect, recognition and respect from others)

5 The need for self-actualization ( expressing ones capacities, fulfilling ones potentials.)

Maslow argues that once basic needs are met the next level of need arises and determines the organisms state of satisfaction. 

Maslow continues,

Even if all these [lower level needs] are satisfied, we may still often (if not always) expect that a new discontent and restlessness will soon develop, unless the individual is doing what he is fitted for.

A musician must play music, an artist must paint, a poet must write if he is to be ultimately happy. What a man can be, he must become.

This need we may call self-actualization and it refers to the desire for self-fulfilment, namely the tendency for him to become actualised in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what oneself, to become everything one is capable of becoming.

But let’s get back to our baby. Within the little one are instincts for warmth and food and all the baby has is its appearance so cute to us as adults and its tears so heart wrenching to those who care. The mother’s heart blooms for her baby – she is his or her world the ultimate mother heart and source of food, warmth and life. The father stands proud - an icon of might against all trouble for his child – our ultimate warrior archetype the protective father.

Here is our ultimate purpose our highest fulfilment – creation and the hope of recreation.

Experience with me the bliss of this trio. Let us pause to share this moment. Whether it happened on the African savannah 200,000 years ago or in the stable at Bethlehem with Joseph and Mary.

Do you feel me?

You and I are born into an age of Science. We understand and give name to our understandings. We benefit and are affected by the technological progress of our species. Yet among our number are all stereotypes expressed for good and evil. A few of us are very good or bad, skilful or inept while most have a middling expression of any particular trait.

The baby is not born into a vacuum. Father and mother must have food and shelter. Without a supportive community they must struggle to meet all needs. Mother and child become the priority while the father does what is needed.

Plans must be made to secure the future of the baby and family. This family is one of many working in co-operation or competition. There are many outcomes. Some excellent some tragic most satisfactory.

Our baby learns its names for objects, people and thoughts and feelings from its parents and its surrounding community. It copies their actions, postures, emotions and attitudes. 

All of the hierarchy of needs expressed by Maslow have their place within the society of the young child. The child is not an empty slate but has innate skills and abilities which may or may not be expressed depending upon whether the environment is hostile or nurturing.

It is within this crucible that the child’s identity and concept of truth is formed. Here the child is named, given names, told his or her place in the order of things and what to say and how to say it, told the history of his or her people, given a ranking, perhaps even a god or gods to worship.  All knowledge springs from curiosity and need. There are basic tools of inquiry to establish truth: who, what, where, why, when, how and with whom. Competition for resources results in diverse strategies to take more than an equal share.

The unequal distribution of resources results in less than optimal outcomes for all involved. If some take more than their fair share, then they prosper at the expense of others. Negative outcomes may range from inconvenience to the death of those so deprived.

What is the place of truth in inequity?

Most people are offended by outright unfairness so that strategies of deception are developed to hide or explain a distorted or unfair division.

An obvious strategy is the use of brute force to take whatever you want. 

Without overwhelming might this may not be successful so cunning may be required to trick others out of their rightful share.

When leaders are more interested in taking as much as they can for themselves rather than maximising the life potential of each community member, then they can be bribed to sacrifice their own people, even to the extent of the destruction of a community and the loss of its property.

The technique of leading the people like sheep to the slaughter has been so successful in dictator governed countries that demagogues use the same tactics in struggling democracies.

Watkin Tench, a young officer of the Royal Marines, arrived with the first convict ships in Australia in 1788. In his diary he recorded, the first step in every community which wishes to preserve honesty should be to set the people above want.

He wished an inclusive society-for the good of all! He suggested that the first fruits [of the unity called government] be returned to the people because they are the nation. Not just to a few. To give to a few is theft from the majority. 

A fair distribution of resources to maximise the potential of every baby born will result in diverse genius within a community.

Maua Faleauto 

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