Max Neef sets out a table of topics, that looks at “basic human needs”, it is not controversial, but well worth examining before setting out to change things. When you look through the Neef table, apart from food and shelter, there is not a lot else really we need to keep ourselves happy, that we are not capable of doing ourselves. In this list there is no mention of billionaires; nuclear bombs, massive armies, celebrities, leaders, saviors, television, cars, multiplexes, retail outlets, and the thousands of other distractions that blots out our ability to think normally, day in, day out.
The thinking what Neef is encouraging is, not that we all go back and live in a cave but to look at life through our own values; like 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. In today’s economy that is the value system our labour supports.
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?
But trying to convince folk of visionary ideas, no mater how simple, without having something concrete and practical to challenge and replace the perceived notion that we can’t be happy without relying on the abstraction money, would be futile. This is the challenge in building vision through determining needs. There is nothing difficult in starting with understanding our basic needs in order to focus our aims and remind ourselves that they can be un-complex, practical, enjoyable and have nothing to do with money.