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Monday, 6 February 2017

Needs, the ultimate motivator

Having been a high school teacher for way too many years, I often wonder what adults would have been like when they were in school. And so, the world’s latest obsession, Donald Trump. As an adolescent, I was very late going through puberty. I used to see this when the junior high kids would come in to the swimming pool where I was lifeguarding. You’d see a bunch of girls blossoming into women and boys still very much boys with a very small number making the transition to manhood. The interactions between the two sexes at that age was quite comical.

Back in Grade 8, the first-time Rocky F. challenged me fight, I had no idea who he was.
Unfortunately, being a little too feisty for my own good, I accepted the challenge. I’ve never been a very bulky kind of guy but at least, prior to Grade 8, I’d been involved in competitive swimming, practicing twice a day and doing land exercises between. So, even though I was not big, I was strong and had been involved in the occasional fist-a-cuffs which were more like elaborate wrestling matches. With Rocky, I was easily outmatched. Ipso facto, I got my clock wiped and then, he challenged me again a few days later, I accepted and a few days after that as well.  I wanted to hurt him. Our last fight was not far from my house where one of my mom’s friends had seen the altercation and reported it to her. Not only was my humiliation known to my peers, my mom wanted to get involved.

After our third fight, Rocky wanted to be friends. For some reason, I accepted the invitation to his house. I recognized it immediately. It was the one where my brother and I and the kids across the back lane had played knock-a-door ginger except I had wanted to make it more interesting. Instead of running away, we would walk by the house like we’d been witnesses to a transgression and not the active participants. When Rocky’s mom came out of the house, we told her that we’d seen a bunch of kids going around the side and down the back lane.

She would have none of that. She told us to get into her house (which, for some reason, we did) and
We weren't cuffed
proceeded to phone my mom to tell her to come and get us. Mrs. F. was told under no uncertain terms, that we could find our own way home to which she responded by phoning the police. In short order, two officers arrived and, after a brief lecture, led us out to the squad car. We were just preparing to get in for a humiliating ride home when my dad showed up with the family dog in tow. My dad easily convinced the two officers that we could be released into his custody and that was the end of it. Being an elementary school principal, he knew when a kid’s been punished and learned his lesson and he figured my brother and I had learned ours. So, we walked home and that was that. We didn’t play with the kid from across the back lane again probably because my brother and I were considered bad influences. 

The day I accepted Rocky’s invitation, his mom either didn’t recognize me or preferred to forget all about our previous interaction. She was nice and Rocky was nice but also incredibly boring. We might have played a board game or two. I have no recollection. I never returned the invitation nor did I ever go back to his house and our interactions at school came to an end.

Donald Trump reminds me of Rocky. He’s like the kid who’s always trying to impress because he feels there’s no other reason a person would want to know him. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, his area of need would be esteem which, for a man of his age, is quite sad. Granted, the levels of public esteem to which Donald aspires  is well beyond the capacity of many of us, but who cares? By age 70, good health will make most of us happy.  And what billionaire, or very rich man at the age of 70, can think of little else to do with his time except augmenting his already considerable wealth and power and prestige? Wouldn’t his time be better spent purchasing mosquito nets to be distributed throughout the malaria infested areas of Africa ala Bill and Melinda Gates or purchasing technology for the less fortunate in the world or, at the very least, pledging to give away half his wealth to charity like Warren Buffet? No, Donald can proudly be included among the least charitable billionaires in the world.

I have greater hopes for Rocky. Like me, who pathetically accepted the invitation to his house, I’m sure Rocky has matured and changed. Donald, not so much, and the result could be disaster, not only for the world but the U.S. as well. And maybe, going back to Maslow, Donald’s supporters have the same need for esteem so obviously missing from his life. Feelings of superiority are always so precarious and filled with insecurities especially when they’re based on race, sex, sexual orientation, country of birth, or religion. Sometimes being human is to see the human in everyone. Sometimes, we should aspire to something greater than the approbation of others and the capacity to pursue something better in ourselves.