Where’s Maslow?

I thought that on Good Friday I would be writing a post referencing back to the 14 stations of the cross journey that I took in Orvieto two years ago, or even the Maundy Thursday service I attended last night.  It is, after all, Holy Week.

But all I can think of today is Maslow.

I’m guessing you know who I’m talking about–Abraham Maslow.  I learned about him for the first time in my sophomore health class (though very briefly), and then looked at him a little more extensively in my adolescent development class in college.  He’s the hierarchy of needs man.  The one who posited that the needs of a human being fall into categories, and you have to achieve the needs at the bottom before you can get to the needs at the top.  In case you’re unfamiliar, the needs at the bottom are the ones like food, weather, breathing–basic biological needs.  After that is safety.  The top level is self-actualization…aka the ability for self-fulfillment, morality, etc.

For the past eight months, I’ve sat through my fair share of meetings.  Pretty much every other meeting falls under the category of data.  Data is really somewhat of a religion, where I am.  (I could take that analogy further, but I think I’ll stop there…).  In practically all of these data meetings, we sit and watch bar graphs being projected up onto a screen.  Bar graphs of test scores and proficiencies.  Bar graphs that boil human beings down into a number and then try to give us a formula to try to “fix” them.

When I think about how what I’m trying to do in my job falls under the category of self-actualization, and then realize how many of the basic needs of these human beings in terms of biological and safety needs are left unmet, I wonder what right I have to even try to assign a number like that to a human when there are so few supports to help them try to reach self-actualization.  It’s like plopping someone who rarely exercises down at the starting line of a marathon and saying, “Here you go, now go run the race.”

Yeah, it seems a little hopeless in a sense.  It’s pretty ridiculous to try to get one group of people transform a community with so much brokenness.

But thinking about Easter makes me realize that it’s not completely hopeless.  Yes, the brokenness is disheartening.  But that brokenness is in the world because of sin.  It’s that sin that’s corrupting the institutions of the world and preventing them from perfectly mirroring their heavenly intent.  And that’s exactly the reason Christ came and died–dissolve that brokenness and create wholeness in God.  That wholeness and healing probably won’t come in my lifetime.  But at least I have hope that it will one day come.

So I guess this is an Easter post in a sense after all.


One thought on “Where’s Maslow?

  1. rebecca says:


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