I’ve been thinking a lot the past few months about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and how it can be an interesting frame for understanding political discussions. Often, there’s a conflict between two sides, and one side is clearly concerned about some need which appears in the hierarchy well below the concern of the other side. For example, a gun control discussion might be “Everyday, I am afraid of getting killed” vs. “I am afraid my rights will be infringed”. “Physical security” appears in the hierarchy far below “sense of freedom”, so as a society, it is clear which need is more urgent. But if one side of the discussion doesn’t think of society as a unit, it can feel free to think of its needs as equally valid and equally urgent as the other side’s needs.

I don’t know how to bridge this gap, but I feel like understanding where different perspectives of a discussion live on the hierarchy of needs is key to understanding how to resolve the divisiveness in 2020 America.

So, if there’s a political discussion going on around you that you don’t understand, try imagining where each side’s concerns live in the hierarchy of needs. It will be illuminating.

Also, this is a great framing for the meaning of the word “privilege”. For example, “it is a privilege to be able to worry about rather than ” is a statement you can make about anything that lives in the hierarchy of needs above . So, for example, “It is a privilege to be able to worry about my 401k rather than what I’m going to do about this pair of shoes that’s about to have a hole in the bottom of it”