Max Neef sets out a table of topics, that looks at Basic Human Needs, it makes a lot of sense and worth looking at. When you look through the list, apart from food and shelter, there is not a lot else we really need to keep ourselves happy. (That we are not capable of doing ourselves) Here there is no mention of billionaires; nuclear bombs, massive armies, celebrities, leaders, savours, television, cars, multiplexes, retail outlets, and the thousands of other distractions that blots out our ability to think normally, day in, day out.
What Neef is suggesting, is not that we all go back and live in caves – but for instance understanding the idea of pleasure, through, thought and awakening our own creative urge can reduces the belief in the myth, that we constantly need to find money to gain happiness. (which is the position most of us are trapped in) Lets face it – having a billion pounds in the bank is more to do with having power over others, than it is to do with happiness or needs. While having material things to some extent can bring happiness – but happiness is more to do with a chemical reaction in the brain that induces well-being and the same pleasure can be experienced whether you are a billionaire or you own nothing – Since a minuscule amount of us will be, or will have the opportunity to be even millionaires, why should we worry about it, or even care, or sit and watch endless TV programs about stuff and people that are not even near our lives?
Much of corporate business distraction is in place to stop people thinking about the idea that they can be happy through their own efforts. For instance – in a job that offers some creative challenge; a wage that meets the effort and sacrifice to make it – time after work spent in hobbies and activities rather than exhaustion and television – a rent or mortgage that doesn’t absorb most of what you earn – a place for your kids to play and places where teenagers can take-on and learn some of the responsibility of future adulthood – where they can grow and develop. This is far more achievable and I would argue more appealing to most people than the brain melt of television and the futility of the unattainable.
Manfred Max-Neef and his colleagues developed a taxonomy of human needs and a process by which communities can identify their “wealth’s” and “poverty’s” according to how their fundamental human needs are satisfied. As you can see below our needs are not that difficult to serve
|Need||Being (qualities)||Having (things)||Doing (actions)||Interacting (settings)|
|subsistence||physical and mental health||food, shelter, work||feed, clothe, rest, work||living environment, social setting|
|protection||care, adaptability, autonomy||social security, health systems, work||co-operate, plan, take care of, help||social environment, dwelling|
|affection||respect, sense of humour, generosity, sensuality||friendships, family, relationships with nature||share, take care of, make love, express emotions||privacy, intimate spaces of togetherness|
|understanding||critical capacity, curiosity, intuition||literature, teachers, policies, educational||analyse, study, meditate, investigate,||schools, families, universities, communities,|
|participation||receptiveness, dedication, sense of humour||responsibilities, duties, work, rights||cooperate, dissent, express opinions||associations, parties, churches, neighbourhoods|
|leisure||imagination, tranquility, spontaneity||games, parties, peace of mind||day-dream, remember, relax, have fun||landscapes, intimate spaces, places to be alone|
|creation||imagination, boldness, inventiveness, curiosity||abilities, skills, work, techniques||invent, build, design, work, compose, interpret||spaces for expression, workshops, audiences|
|identity||sense of belonging, self-esteem, consistency||language, religions, work, customs, values, norms||get to know oneself, grow, commit oneself||places one belongs to, everyday settings|
|freedom||autonomy, passion, self-esteem, open-mindedness||equal rights||dissent, choose, run risks, develop awareness||anywhere|