Primary and Secondary Needs

Our primary needs as human beings:

Warmth, shelter, food.

and then:

Touch. The loving gaze of others.
Being welcomed by smiling faces, simply for being alive.
Community.
A way to express our feelings and experiences truthfully, and to be heard.
People with whom to celebrate, and with whom to grieve.
Intimacy with others, and with the world.
Nature.
A way to belong.
Being of service.
Art.
Beauty, wonder.
Encounters with the sacredness of things.

It is the nature of our primary needs that, when met, we feel filled, complete, connected. Nothing more is called for.

The consumer economy in which we live is dedicated to meeting¬†secondary¬†needs – which are a pale imitation of what is primary. Our secondary needs, even when met, can’t fill us. They leave us wanting more. And as such they are ripe for the sale, for the making of profit.

So it should be no wonder that our primary needs are marginalised, often ridiculed, in our education system, organisations, and politics. Why have real contact with others when there’s no money in it? Beauty, when it will satiate rather then create demand? Intimacy, when it interrupts our addiction to the latest products? Deep joy, or deep sorrow, and contact with what’s sacred, when it stops us from feeling like empty vessels that need continual filling? Why do anything if it can’t be linked to productivity, or profit, or economic growth? Why do anything that will have us stop our restless, rootless consumption?

You could say that it’s the systematic marginalisation of our primary needs, and the worship of the secondary, that keeps our whole economy going in its current form.

But it’s in meeting one another’s primary needs, needs that can never be met in the form of a transaction, that we are most fulfilled, and most able to take care of what really needs our care.

Photo Credit: Wayne Stadler Photography Flickr via Compfight cc

The Wild Edge of Sorrow

Lizzie Winn and Justin Wise were live again on Sunday 26th November.

This week the source for our conversation is Francis Weller’s book “The Wild Edge of Sorrow”. We begin with two poems – Denise Levertov’s “To Speak of Sorrow” and Robert Bly’s “What is Sorrow For?”. We talk about the connection between feeling our sorrow, shared rituals and spaces for grieving, and aliveness. Along the way we touch on how restraining sorrow keeps the myth that we are separate going, and how our collective numbing to the losses of our own lives and the world is a way we keep perpetuating the more destructive aspects of our current culture. We end with the hopeful thought that finding ways to grieve together is a way to help us turn more fully and courageously towards life and all that is called for from us.

You can find both poems, which we recommend you read before watching, here.

And you can join our FaceBook group, now more than 400 strong, to watch live or later and participate in the lively conversation that’s going on in the comments.

Personal Guidelines for the Great Turning

Lizzie Winn and Justin Wise were live again on Sunday 19th November.

The source for this week’s conversation was Joanna Macy’s “Personal Guidelines for the Great Turning”. We talk about what can support us in responding courageously and truthfully in the midst of the enormous changes – political, social, environmental – which may only just be beginning and which could change everything. Along the way we touch on the life-giving necessity of beauty, how to know ourselves in a way that can give us the courage we need to step forward, and how important it is to realise that none of us is alone.

You can find Joanna Macy’s ‘Personal Guidelines’, which we recommend you read before watching, here.

And you can join our FaceBook group, now more than 400 strong, to watch live or later and participate in the lively conversation that’s going on in the comments.

Photo Credit: $owmya Flickr via Compfight cc

I am an emotional creature

In our conversation on Sunday 12th November, Lizzie and Justin began with Eve Ensler’s poem ‘I am an Emotional Creature’. We talk about being male and female, how society pushes us towards gendered roles and orientations to the world, and what gets left out when we gravitate to either one of the poles of emotion or intellect without the other.

You can find the poem, which we recommend you read before watching, here:
http://bit.ly/2zxcglq

Photo Credit: Darkrevette Flickr via Compfight cc