The median person in this world lives a very different life from the one I lead. The means available to me are tremendous. The privilege afforded me second to none. These things are consequential to my life yet wholly separate from meeting my needs1.
In the service of meeting my needs the means and privilege afforded me should be understood from my perspective as an inhibiting satisfier2. My means and privilege allow me to live a life which is beyond sustainability.
I live in a world where people are unable to meet their fundamental needs. Where people desire that which is economically and ecologically unsustainable. Things which I have. Living beyond our collective means is a violator for meeting the fundamental needs of our progeny–if not also all of our contemporaries without the same privilege.
We must identify a path forward whose satisfiers and strategies leave room for all to meet their fundamental human needs. The systems we create must be designed to accomplish that goal first and foremost.
All terminology is as defined by Max-Neef, Human Scale Development.
- Fundamental human needs are finite, few and classifiable. Fundamental human needs are the same in all cultures and in all historical periods. Human needs must be understood as a system: that is, all human needs are interrelated and interactive. [These] human needs [can be organized] into two categories: existential and axiological. From the classification proposed, it follows that, food and shelter, for example, must not be seen as needs but as satisfiers of the fundamental need for Subsistence. Back.
- Each economic, social and political system adopts different methods for the satisfaction of the same fundamental human needs. In every system, they are satisfied (or not satisfied) through the generation
(or non-generation) of different types of satisfiers. We may go as far as to say that one of the aspects that define a culture is its choice of satisfiers. Whether a person belongs to a consumerist or to an ascetic society, his/her fundamental human needs are the same. What changes is his/her choice of the quantity and quality of satisfiers. In short: What is culturally determined are not the fundamental human needs, but the satisfiers for those needs. Cultural change is, among other things, the consequence of dropping traditional satisfiers for the purpose of adopting new or different ones. Back.