We’re Not So Different, You and I


“We’re not so different, you and I.” These words were on my mind when I awoke early this morning. In the past few days the song “What the World Needs Now” (is love, sweet love…) has been playing in the background of my thoughts.

The day after my last post, which unfortunately was all about me and the wrongs that had been done toward me (just call me a drama queen), one of my colleagues got fired. Reality check #1.

Reality check #2: Yesterday a dear friend called me out on some comments I’ve made on Facebook. I confess, I have made derisive comments from time to time about Southern Baptists. This friend told me that it sounds like I think I’ve found a “higher way.” Oh Lord. And oh, friends … forgive me. I really do get on my “high horse” from time to time. I really don’t mean to sound as if I have found all truth. I have discovered a few things in this spiritual journey called life that work for me, but I don’t mean to imply that they work for everyone.

I’m not that different from any of you. Pardon me as I launch into a brief explanation of the needs we humans share. (Blame my mom. She was a teacher, and I have inherited her tendency to want to lecture about subjects that interest me. If you want to skip the lecture, scroll on down to the bottom of this post.)

Psychologist Abraham Maslow identified 5 levels of needs (remember that hierarchy of needs from Psychology 101?), and he pictured these as a pyramid.

1. At the base of the pyramid are physical needs such as food, water, sleep, and warmth.

2. Once these needs are met, we move on to the need for security: shelter and safety.

3. Only when the above needs are met do we move to the next level: social needs. The need to belong, the need for friendship and affection, the need for love. Our relationships with our family and friends satisfy part of these needs. We meet our social needs in other ways, such as belonging to civic or religious groups.

4. When we are able to satisfy our social needs, according to Maslow (and his theory is much debated), we move to the next level: esteem needs. These include the need for things that make us feel better about ourselves, such as social recognition and accomplishment.

5. And finally, at the top of the pyramid is self-actualization, which means a person is more concerned with personal growth than the opinions of others and strives to fulfill his/her potential.

Hmmm. I wonder if we all move back and forth between levels in this hierarchy of needs. Sometimes I feel as if I’m on top of the world: everything seems hunky-dory. Then something comes along that threatens my sense of security. Inside I’m really just a quivery mass of insecurity. I think a lot of people are; some just hide it better than others.

Here’s what I dream about/wish for: I wish that we could find more commonalities than differences with our fellow human beings. I wish I would refrain from judgment. I wish I would pause and see, really see with my heart, that person who acts so obnoxious or that person who looks so different from me. I wish I would be quicker to listen and less hasty to react. I wish that we lived in a world that is not so consumed with hatred.

There are many things over which I have no control. Sometimes I despair at the hatefulness I see us all inflict on one another, even in small ways. I wonder, what would happen if we all took responsibility to make our little corner of the world a better place?

This reminds me of a joke my mom used to tell (she had a few jokes, and they were corny, but they made me laugh…and sometimes they had a point). Did you hear the one about the old woman who peed in the ocean? She said, “Every little bit helps.”

So today, with God’s help, I will do my little bit to not spread pollution in the ocean (lame joke) but to “water” my corner of the world. God, help us all to be more loving persons. Help us to have wisdom to know when to bite our tongues. Some things just need to be left unsaid. And help us know when to say an encouraging word to others. We may unknowingly make a life-or-death difference to someone. God, bless us every one. We just can’t do it by ourselves.

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