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Making Connections: Need, the Great Equalizer

January 15, 2016

We need our connections to others. Belonging is a high priority among our most basic human needs, as shown in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, below.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


If you’ve never heard about this pyramid before, it is used by educators and other professionals to understand human motivation. For example, it helps them understand that they really can’t get people to think about their love and belonging needs if they are hungry, sick, not sheltered, or unsafe, can they?

Despite the importance of relationships in our lives, they can be fraught with difficulties given our inability to read one another’s minds, meet every expectation, and properly handle differences of opinion without isolating ourselves from those who don’t agree with us. When any of these things lead to strife, people tend to run away or isolate themselves behind walls of pride and/or choose to identify with a particular group that is meant to insulate them from having meaningful conversations with those they differ from.

What is it that can automatically equalize the playing field to break down walls of individual or group pride?

A crisis.

And, while no one wants to go through a crisis, a crisis can ultimately end up being a good thing. You hear how many people testify after going through a disaster how it got them back in touch with the world of people once again, where, before, they hid safely behind not only their walls of brick and mortar, but their internal walls as well.

Walls of Separation

While walls tend to separate us from others, they are also necessary. They help to keep daily tasks and people in their various roles better organized. They provide a certain sense of safety and security from encroachment by unwanted individuals and harsh environmental elements. But there are other walls, besides those made of brick and mortar, which also exist. Sometimes these walls are the hardest for people to negotiate.

Take race, religion, and nationality for example. Staying close to those with which one is most familiar has a way of bringing people a certain level of comfort if not security. While there are many who would prefer that this were not the case, they are working against a very powerful psychological needs and motivators: Belonging, esteem, and security. For instance, remaining within one’s tribe can prevent uncomfortable situations from arising that might keep some individuals from feeling less competent. Socioeconomic standing is yet another wall of separation many people choose to live behind to keep them insulated from those who are less fortunate.

Need: The Great Equalizer

Human vulnerability or need is a great equalizer. When an event takes down the walls that usually separate people, be it by flood, fire, or quake, the community tends to move in quickly to bring aid. Consequently, many people give testimony afterwards to how the tragedy inadvertently enriched their lives. The opportunity to encounter those they were once separated from by their many walls gave them a sense of belonging to their wider community. However, as long as there is another option available, most people usually prefer to stay firmly planted behind their walls. To address that situation, one needs to learn more about those walls that people tend to erect around their hearts, found in my next two articles in our Making Connection Series, “Scaling The Walls Around Our Hearts” and The Root of Division and Strife.


This article was written by Tracey Nelson, M.A., M.Ed. from the blog entitled, Healing Christ’s Spotless Bride ( Permission to reproduce and use in other media without charge is granted if the author’s information and a link to it is included at no charge to those who wish to read it.


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