Guest AuthorPavan Soni

The rich world problems

By | Dr Pavan Soni | IIM-B Innovation Evangelist

While I am terribly sad about what happened at Mumbai two days back and a New Zealand yesterday, the causes of the unfortunate episodes leave me more troubled.

The case was no different then in 2017 when we heard of a massive (avoidable) stampede at the Maximum City, where 27 commuters lost their lives, followed shortly by a ‘crazy’ shootout episode at the Sin City (not sure if avoidable).

While the deaths back home can be linked to lack of infrastructure, or rampant corruptions amid the authorities, the tragedies at much of the ‘rich world’ are more peculiar and hence difficult to explain to/by a rational mind.

I think the answer lies in one of the most popular (and highly maladaptive) theories of developmental psychology – The Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Proposed in 1943, the construct suggests that humans, much like our primates, move up the hierarchy of needs from the most basic ones, such as physical and safety related, to the more sophisticated ones, including esteem and self-actualization. The key here is that one ‘must’ achieve a particular level in the hierarchy before ascending on to the subsequent one.

That doesn’t however mean that if the basic needs are satisfied one does move up the hierarchy. That’s where I suppose the rich world problems lie.

In Abraham Maslow’s words ‘It looks as if there were a single ultimate goal for mankind, a far goal toward which all persons strive. This is called variously by different authors self-actualization, self-realization, integration, psychological health, individuation, autonomy, creativity, productivity, but they all agree that this amounts to realizing the potentialities of the person, that is to say, becoming fully human, everything that person can be’.

Perhaps not!

Or, putting is simply, our (largely) problems are of lower order whereas the rich world problems are of (mostly) higher order.

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And once again, the Maximum City (especially under a distress) stages oozing levels of self-actualization from apparently the most underprivileged and disenfranchised.

Two notions here:

Growth is not everything.

Death is a big equalizer.

Republished with permission and originally published at Dr. Pavan Soni’s LinkedIn

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