Exploiting Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Dear President Trump,

Sunrise this morning was at 6:34, which means we are solidly back in the kind of dark/light cycle where sidewalk tripping hazards are a thing again. I had a taste of this the other morning, but fortunately the sidewalk didn’t fully catch my foot so it was a small stumble instead of a fall. It got my attention, though, and I’m now back to using only the arterial streets with semi-sufficient lighting for my morning run/walks.

This morning I planned my route so that I could go by the gorgeous flowerbeds at the end of an arterial that turns into a bike/pedestrian bridge over the ravine I was telling you about the other day. Well, I did go by there, but after turning the corner and heading up the next block I had a little panic that I hadn’t remembered to pay attention when I went by the flowers since I was so focused on not tripping. I actually stopped and was about to go back when I pieced together that I had been cognizant of the flowers for at least a few paces so let myself go on with the rest of the run.

It got me thinking (again) about how all-consuming a focus on safety can be and how it can mean that people miss tons of interesting and cool stuff. This in turn led me to think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which I was sure I must have written to you about before, but since a search of my mega-letter document came up empty, apparently I haven’t. So, you are in for a treat – or not. Basically, I’m sure if you were reading this you’d be well glazed over by now and the prospect of Tracy introducing another psychological construct would have you reaching for the channel changer. Your loss, though, dude.

Because I think it’s instructive for what’s going on vis a vie you and the big US, I’m roughly replicating the hierarchy here (it’s typically depicted as a pyramid but that won’t translate to your contact page so you are getting a non-fancy version):

Self-actualizing Morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts
Esteem Self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others
Love/belonging Friendship, family, sexual intimacy
Safety Security of: body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, property
Physiological Breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion

Obviously the most basic stuff is on the bottom – without breath, food, water, sleep, and excretion, all in reasonable homeostasis (sex is debatable for the individual), none of the rest of it is even possible. However, it’s really a theoretical model and how everything from safety on up works together would be pretty hard (impossible, really) to fully test.

But look at what’s up there at the top in the “Self-actualizing” row – morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, and acceptance of facts. With the exception of spontaneity, this stuff is what so many of us have been on you about undermining. Indeed, just now Laura read me a series of Tweets about how you got NOAA (NOAA!), to disavow NOAA-Alabama’s correction of your asinine mistake about Dorian being likely to impact that state. So much for “acceptance of facts” and “morality” – we have officially entered the freaking terrifying Orwellian realm where Big Brother wants us to know he’s lying. And the fact (real fact) that it’s about something relatively small is convenient since your peeps will just shrug and go, ‘well, Dorian could have grazed Alabama, what’s the big deal?’ on their way to believing that up is down and down is up.

Whether you have the foggiest idea who Maslow was or know about his hierarchy, you (or your puppet masters) clearly have a terrific intuitive sense of how this all works. You understand that even the perception of danger can derail people and keep them mired in the primitive space near the very bottom of the hierarchy. You get that they will be so consumed with worry that can never be soothed (because unreal danger can’t be resolved) that they’ll bypass their frontal lobes and stay stuck in lizard brain. And now you’ve added the twist of getting a heretofore-trusted national agency charged with a critical public safety mission to support your lies. You are a monster.

May we be safe from you.
May we be happy to vote you off the island. Now.
May we insist that Congress impeach or invoke Article 25.
May we not be at peace with any of this.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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