By Dan Granger with Kyle Jelinek
In 1943, humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”. This hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other, more advanced needs. While the true nature of motivation and fulfilling basic needs in order to live a full life has been debated long after his death, Maslow’s basic model still rings true nearly 76 years later.
As I face the day-to-day grind of working through hard things with all of these humans, or worse, have to work through the limitations of my own humanity, I often remind myself that we’re all just kids in a sandbox. We guard our territories. We make things. And we get upset when someone steps into our area or isn’t playing fair. We look for an authority to hold them accountable.
When we’re kids, we get what we get, and then the cement dries. If basic needs are not met, for the rest of our lives, we look to the world to make up the difference.
The same needs and desires are at play when we get older. Will anyone notice how hard we are working? How good of a job we did? We worry if there’s going to be enough for us to get by, or if something unfair is going to happen.
Age means very little in these matters. Sibling rivalries occur in every season of life. We see politicians in their 70’s spending millions of dollars to tell us why they are good, but the others are bad. We want to know that our bosses, friends, and family care about us; we even need the love of our customers. We long for them to believe we are special and to tell us so.
As children, we had to rely on others to feel safe, for nourishment, and for survival. The deeper difference, of course, is that as adults we are no longer powerless. As basic needs are met, we rely on things like clothes, cars, and extensive vocabularies to create the perception that we are something more than just kids in a sandbox, desperately hoping that it will all be ok. To feel we will not be forsaken.
There was a time in our lives when we truly were powerless. Today we are different because we can bring these things to ourselves and satisfy many of our most primal longings.
Still, most of us struggle with the fear of being forsaken. We toil all day to avoid feelings of powerlessness, however unlikely that our primary needs cannot be met.
In my own life, I go to great lengths to avoid feelings of powerlessness. I much prefer to be ”solution-oriented” and to always have a plan. When that doesn’t work, my safest strategy is to slow down and focus on gratitude. To remind myself of all I’ve been given: The love of my wife and my daughters. The material things, far beyond what a life should require. A business that allows me to support my family from the type of work I was made to do. The friends, the family, even a Goldendoodle. If I spend enough time remembering and taking inventory of all the things I’ve been given, beyond what I feared I might never have, the feelings of forsakenness melt away, no matter what kind of day I’m having.
But what about those who have no agency? What of those who genuinely are powerless in the world? You and I may not be powerless over getting our basic needs met, but right now, as you read this, there are a tragic number of people who honestly cannot. Walk the halls of your local Children’s Hospital and listen to their cries. There may be world-class medical care available, with caring nursing staff and new technology that is saving children’s lives in ways never before possible. But there is still something missing, that may be as important as medical care–the loving touch of human hands to hold helpless children as they wait for someone to heal their pain and to send them home. A basic need in Maslow’s hierarchy not being met, despite the abundance of qualified people ready to help.
It is, for this reason, we started the Koala Corps. After seeing the pain that my own daughter went through, between multiple surgeries during her first six months while she lived at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, I know what forsaken looks like. An endless sea of helpless children, each stranded in torment alone on a desert island with no human presence or human touch to say, “It’s all going to be ok.” I’ve seen how even the most caring and available family cannot be there 100% of the time, and what happens between visits is nothing short of a tragedy. Short-staffed and busy saving lives, the hospital staff doesn’t have time to hold every child, so the babies are left to cry. The real tragedy is that enough volunteers are ready and willing to help. But without proper funding to screen, train, and manage qualified caretakers, thousands of children are left alone, in pain, and feeling forsaken.
We work hard every day to meet our own needs and to avoid this feeling in our own lives. At Oxford Road, we give money every month to this cause. We launched the Koala Corps to raise sufficient funds so that Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles can fund the program to see every child has someone to hold them for the next three years. We are about 20% of the way toward our goal, but we need your help.
Please consider giving through the Koala Corps. 100% of your contribution will go to Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, and YOU CAN make a difference in the life of a young child who cannot help themselves. Simply go to www.KoalaCorps.com to give right now.
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While we’re all playing in our sandbox, I’ll bet that you, like me, have countless reasons to be grateful. Out of that gratitude, give back today so that these little ones do not spend another unnecessary moment feeling forsaken.