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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


Despite their importance, relationships can be fraught with difficulty given our inability to read one another’s minds (i.e., communicate effectively), meet every expectation, and deal with differences of opinion. When these things lead to division and strife, people tend to isolate themselves behind walls of pride and/or some identification with a particular group that is meant to insulate them from having meaningful conversations with those we 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, that can ultimately be a good thing.

Walls of Separation

Walls separate but they are necessary. They keep tasks and people better organized and provide a certain sense of safety and security from encroachment by unwanted individuals and the elements. But there are other walls, besides those made of brick and mortar, which also exist. Sometimes these walls are the hardest to negotiate.

Take race, religion, and nationality for example. Staying close to those with which one is familiar can bring some a certain sense of security. While there are many who would prefer that this were not the case, they are working against that powerful human need/motivator; security. Remaining within one’s tribe can prevent uncomfortable situations from arising that might keep sheltered 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 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, Getting Around the Walls Around Our Hearts and The Root of Division and Strife.


This article was written by Tracey Nelson, MA, MEd 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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