Maslow’s Machine Gun

Alas, old Maslow is still on my mind…although I am becoming more fond of thinking on “Jefferson’s Hierarchy of Needs” aka “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness“.   And, while I still believe that we’d best have more on our plate than mere survival, I find it necessary to concede that “Life” is something of an exigent prerequisite.  

Now, in my advancing maturity, I’m better acquainted with the notion that there is such a thing as a “fate worse than death”.  Sprinkled on top, I suppose, is a bit of appreciation for the old sniper’s wisdom:  “Don’t try to run, you’ll just die tired.”  Amen to that, brother. 

Still, I was a Boy Scout in my youth,  so it should come as no surprise that the motto “Be Prepared” has stuck with me and led to a recurring desire for self-sufficiency.    (For those who might be inclined to discount such formative influences, I might also observe that the lesser known “Boy Scout Law” could almost serve as a list of antonyms describing today’s youth.) 

But, back to Maslow and Jefferson.  We should all remember that the corrupt and criminal among us are those that tend to care only for Maslow’s lowest order needs.  Accordingly, we shouldn’t be surprised that most of them are well-armed and hoping you are not.  Of course, to these types, a gun is nothing but a key that unlocks all sorts of doors. 

This, by the way, should serve as a chilling cue to those who might discount the significance of the apparent fondness expressed for Mao Zedong by several of our current president’s staff.  It was Mao, after all, who famously stated that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” and, more famously, used that gun to kill as many as 70 million people. 

For a more entertaining look at the subject, I might recommend the quirky, 1990 cult-film classic Miami Blues, in which Alec Baldwin’s character, upon release from prison, gets down to the business of dealing with Maslow’s lowest-order needs.   In a poetic moment, he composes this haiku:     

“Break-ing, ent-er-ing
The dark and lonely places
Finding a big gun”

At the risk of giving away too much of the movie’s plot, Baldwin’s character subsequently goes on to steal a policeman’s badge and all the power that comes with it.  As the highly recommended GOA or JPFO can tell you far more eloquently than I,  this theme, unfortunately, has recurred throughout history, at a great expense to the poor, the helpless, and the minorities among us.

To any, then, that might hope to aim at “higher-order needs”, it might serve to remember that, as often as not, those in authority over us may be the criminal in our midst.    Yes, as well we know:  “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely“.  Well, Jefferson had a number of practical solutions to this human character flaw, notably his support for the 2nd Amendment.

As for Maslow, his position on gun control isn’t known, but I’m willing to bet that he might have taken Jefferson’s recommendations, perhaps keeping  a machine gun in the closet, just like the Swiss.  While, practically speaking, the American state has already limited the range of my options here, I remain inclined to do my best to “be prepared”. 

Harry Tuttle

 “The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that… it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”
–Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824.



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