I am interested in understanding human needs, because I want to find an elegant way for a society to fulfill its members’ needs. I want to find a symbiotic way and not a conflictual one.

It is obvious that a symbiotic way will be more efficient.

But there is a barrier to this symbiotic way: our current conflict-of-interest-based society and our old set of emotions that evolved to help us thrive in a conflict-of-interest-based society.

Generally, our first impulse is to fight in order to fulfill our unmet needs. Often we employ an aggressive communication or behavior to defend our borders, to reclaim our rights or simply to meet our unmet needs. I would prefer a collaborative way. I would prefer non-violent communication, symbiotic behavior, stigmergic correlation and a higher level of fairness, coherence and cooperation inside our societies.

The hierarchy of needs vs the circle of needs

More than 50 years ago, Abraham Maslow proposed a 5 level model of human needs (physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, self-esteem needs and self-actualization needs), that grew to a seven and then 8 level model (including cognitive and aesthetic needs and then transcendence needs). His model, based on different levels of needs, resembles a “hierarchy of relative prepotency”. Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. The first four levels are called “Deficiency needs” and the last one “Growth needs”. This is a very individualistic perspective, that leaves behind the community and heads towards individual “self-actualization”. This model is in perfect accordance with the liberal ideology of separation and competition that now is proving itself more and more dysfunctional.

Floris Koot proposed another frame of human needs: Flourish Needs Cycle. There is a never-ending cycle, where each previous stage, once completed, creates the condition for the next stage to start and flourish. All the stages support each other. The fulfillment of the “last” stage of the cycle creates the condition for the cycle to start again. I will modify its model from 9 to 8 stages on a cycle:

Physiological needs (these are biological requirements for human survival: air, food, drink, shelter etc. If these needs are not satisfied the human body cannot function optimally. All the other needs become secondary until these needs are met.)

Safety needs (once an individual’s physiological needs are satisfied, the needs for security and safety become salient. People want to experience order, predictability and control in their lives.)

Love and Belonging needs (after physiological and safety needs have been fulfilled, the third level of human needs is social and involves feelings of belongingness. Belongingness, refers to a human emotional need for interpersonal relationships, affiliating, connectedness, and being part of a group. Examples of belongingness needs include friendship, intimacy, trust, and acceptance, receiving and giving affection, and love.)

Esteem needs (include self-esteem (dignity, personal achievements, mastery) and the desire for status, prestige, reputation, respect from others. The need for reputation is important for adolescents and precedes real self-esteem.)

Self-actualization needs (refer to the realization of a person’s potential, the fulfillment of its inner-calling, to become the most that one can be.)

Transcendence needs = Community actualization (A person is motivated by values which transcend beyond the personal self and are community oriented. Only from now we start to speak about relational self, Universe-centered consciousness, Yellow-Turquoise level of human psychological development. This level of development opens the individual to community.)

Service to a Living world: for a fair human world (Community actualization creates the basis for co-creating a fair human world.)

Service to a Living world: for the regeneration of the planetary ecosystem (A fair human world creates the condition for the regeneration of the planetary ecosystem. That creates the condition that physiological needs to be fulfilled).

Native American Blackfoot has their own model, that is very simple but more in accordance with Nature’s way: self-actualization/ community actualization/ social and ecosystem perpetuity.

It is a beautiful cycle: A tribe confers all the basic needs (so called “Deficiency needs” in Maslow’s hierarchy), thus a person can start easily its self-actualization. He/She doesn’t has to compete and fight with anybody to meet his/her basic needs for safety, love, belonging and esteem. An actualized person will foster community actualization that creates the basis for a fair human society and a thriving ecosystem, that assures in its turn the perpetuity of community, the perpetuity of its ecological basis.

I would like us to perceive human society as an ecosystem among the ecosystems of the planet. In this perception, it is not the conflict and the struggle that ensure the prosperity, continuity and well-being of the participants of the “Great Circle of Life”, but their symbiosis.

What do we all need? An abundant life, oriented on development, joy and regeneration. I would like us to understand that we can better meet our needs through collaboration and not through exploitation of others. In fact, struggle and exploitation are conducive not to welfare, but to even more struggle and exploitation, even more inequity and conflict. The fighting and exploitation diminish the chances for an abundant life, oriented on development, joy and regeneration. But collaboration and fairness are conducive to an abundant life, oriented on development, joy and regeneration.

We have to change our basic frame of how things work: from a hierarchy to a cycle. We were used to perceive ourselves as the top of some kind of trophic pyramid, but this is not how our Planet really works. Acting from this perspective all we can do is to destroy the planetary ecosystem… Actually, we are a part of the Great Circle of Life, as trees, grass, fishes or wolves are. We have to integrate this new understanding in our worldview, in our myths, stories and songs.

A cycle ensures, through its very structure, the perpetuity and sustainability of the system. (From this perspective, we can start talking about Circle Economy)

We must understand that even “our self-actualization” must serve a greater purpose: a human community conducive to authentic personal development.

Even this “actualized community” serves a larger purpose – as an organ of a sustainable and fair human civilization, which serves, in its turn, the regeneration of the planetary ecosystem.

It is easy to understand that only such a human society, which can ensure the perpetuation of a healthy planetary ecosystem, can create the conditions for fulfilling the basic human needs. We cannot live without clean air, without clean water, without nutritious food … We can not live forever just exploiting our beautiful Planet… We have to take care of Her too. We have to take care of others’ needs. This is the symbiotic way of Life.

We have to find better ways to meet our needs. We have to understand the Circle of Life and the Circle of Needs and understand that we are solidary with this Planet. It is our responsibility, as a civilization, to integrate ourselves harmoniously into the planetary ecosystem and to be a constructive part of it (not a destructive part).

The harmony, the health, the well-being of the Planet as a whole should be our goal and responsibility – as individuals and as a civilization. We meet our individual needs, physiological and psychological, to become people capable of social participation, creativity, generosity and empathy – able to be co-creators of a fair human society, able to fulfill our moral responsibility to be conducive to the beauty and health of our Planet.