Man and Sheep

Once in a management course – long long ago when we still believed in the virtue of excellence – our teacher told us about the human needs and motivation.

Abraham Maslow has been described as the spiritual father of humanistic psychology and his Hierarchy of Needs theory remains valid today for understanding human motivation, management training, and personal development.

Our basic needs – when we walked around without access to fast food, branded clothes and public facilities – were food for today and shelter for the night.

That’s how we got into hunting which nowadays resulted in a large number of animals being extinct.

Gone are the bison, gone are the Sumatra Rhinoceros; we will hunt them all down till we manage them in controlled environments called national parks.

Fear of losing a little bit of money to the wild boar, makes them “fair” game and it is just a matter of time till they are all gone.

Our ancestors built simple huts in the beginning and we ended up with plastering the planet with concrete monsters.

All people have a variety of needs. For example, when people are hungry (unsatisfied need), they take action to obtain food (goal). Physiological: needs for food, water, air, and shelter. Security: protection from physical harm and economic disaster, and avoidance of the unexpected.

When we still were a modest small tribe looking for food and shelter – like Asterix and Obelix – we considered food and shelter for tomorrow also something that should have our span of attention.

After having that secured it was time to take stock and find some permanent psychologic structure within the tribe. We looked for a manager and a consultant. We didn’t call them at the time, they were still the “headman” and the “shaman”. Nevertheless they came in useful. Once in a while when food became scarce, the moon disappeared, thunder and storm pestered us, we offered them to the Gods. The Mexicans left us with structures to show how this can be done.

Often, remarkable soon, the rain and storm went away, the moon came back and we found time to elect a new headman and a new shaman; It showed the democratic system worked. It also showed that in addition to the democratic system we needed an outsider.

Religion came in handy. It had a lot of unanswered questions and it absolved some blame of the shaman. The shaman liked it, because it prevented the shaman being offered to the Gods. Religion served the sustainability of the Shaman. The seeds of McKinsey and Company can be traced back to this moment in time.

It also did away with democracy. Headman got into trouble – a conflict of interest so to say), they liked the idea of sustainability (Robert Mugabe and Sepp Blatter can vouch for it) but it lacked somehow accountability.

Searching for the food and shelter of tomorrow and even the day after, they noticed that the tribe consisted of different mental abilities, characteristics and intellectual capacity. Part of the tribe was sly, part of it only interested in food and sex, part of it looking for a possibility to offer the headman to the Gods and take over the helm.

In management science this has been translated into wolf and sheep. This is not a very flattering view of humanity as it would make us cannibals. It also is rather racists as wolf and sheep belong to different species. But Genesis 1-26 is rather strict about the matter: …….”so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.“

It is clear that the literal interpretation of the scripture brought us in trouble as the fish et al are on the way of extinction and so. Selective or random breeding is not in the scripture (or at least I couldn’t find it, but there certainly will be a Rabi who will cite something related to it ) thus it is not clear if we are right or wrong in bio-diversity chicken breeding or keeping bees on the roof of a skyscraper.

But I am rambling off the track of need and motivation. Along the time-line of history we kept more-or-less to the habit of headman and shaman, we threw Popes in the Tiber and we hang the Kings and their offspring on good and bad days.

But slowly this principle of democracy has returned and we now in several parts of the world have gotten into the process of electing headman and outsourcing the roadmap of our future to consultants in various commissions and authorities. Thus we absolve ourselves from accountability and responsibility.

We became sheep. We still are not very happy with a lonesome bear or a hungry and playful wolf and have engaged paid executioners to get rid of those. However, without a headman the flock gets lost in translation. We end up in a fantastic delirium which we call so many shades of something or stand like seaweed in the current of music with our arms stretched out in trance with the drums of the polluted sound of electronic screams.

Like sunflowers following the Sun-God of our ancestry of prehistoric times we watch ourselves to be watched and stored in the cloud of which we never will be able to escape.

We (me and I) have become less human and more slaves of the little screens that rule our daily existence. We do not observe happiness without it be documented with an image to be shown to others.

Our first goal: “food and shelter” for today has been replaced with “entertainment and crowd membership for us to keep up with the Joneses”.

Our children have to be seen in the right attire, belonging to the right group, going to the right party, developing a view as determined by some geeks in silicon valley.

We (me and I unfortunately) have given up burning those who brought havoc and despair to our economy, there are too many bankers, all to “whom it may concern” are regarded as innocent as stated in a written agreement of culpability between their employers and the state.

We have given up putting our politicians in blocks of shame: nobody would go and stare at them, there are better sources of entertainment, sports, big events with a lot of psychedelic lights and tattoos to be admired.

Our nation competes on the fields of honour in Olympic fashion supported by the best medical and pharmaceutical shaman money can buy. Although we believe in heimweh and fatherland, our heroes carry names of faraway countries and speak languages at home we can’t understand. We detest those we came after us and have fear of unfamiliar cultures when they come near to us.

We do visit them, those faraway countries and cultures, we enjoy the exotic smells, colors and sights. We trade with them and keep their money in our banks, we trust them as far as we can see them, but not out-of-sight.

We engage them to win some tournament on our behalf, we cry from joy when they show their medals, we turn our heads away when they fail.

Selective civilisation has come to live with us. Fear to lose the wealth we created with their help, fear to share our wealth with those we have deprived from finding a decent living.

We welcome them, baptise them as being our nationals as long as they perform better as we ever could.

Our pierced heroes are on screen, while our heartless and shameful society watches people from war torn countries drowning in the waters round Malta.

“Our boat is full” was a slogan 70 years ago, feigning not knowing what happened to people who were on the run looking for those basic needs: food and shelter for today and tomorrow.

We (me and I) can’t answer “we didn’t know”, we are aware what’s happening, but we stay without compassion, without understanding, playing tennis, going to concerts, watching football.

So where would we be obliged to hold people accountable for the lack of help and support we normally have available?

In Switzerland there is an organisation called the chain of luck, in Malta it is the presidents chest. In all countries in there are private organisations who are able to help.

Those organisations depend on publicity to function, to be kept alive. Helping those who survive the journey and land in Hungary, Malta or Italy, doesn’t bring the publicity that would land more money in the pockets of those NGO’s.

Their first (and only) objective is to sustains themselves and be seen in the media as “good doers”, but they can’t be seen on the shores of Libya or at the border of Serbia.

We (me and I) have delegated our responsibility to our government by electing democratic representatives (our headman from the Stone Age). Those in government now have failed – failed terrible – and continue their “our boat is full” denial of the death sentences they are meeting out as paper bureaucrats while playing golf or posing for photographs in group meetings.

We (me and I) have outsourced our responsibility to those who are saving bankers (too big to fail) and financial systems (if the Euro fails, Europe Fails). Those in charge are feeling the pressure of the right wing (didn’t we have that before in history) creating fear for the conflict they cherish (cold war – terrorism) and did create themselves.

The “Arabian Spring” did not last thousand and one night, it died at birth.

So we (me and I) go on holidays, watch the sports, play the games, join our group meetings, have become the sheep of the 21st century, while the wolfs put the refuges in boats and trucks and see them drown, suffocate and decompose.

Long ago we decided that it had to be that way: we wanted the sheep and the wolf to be part of the same tribe. The wolfs enjoyed the free lunch and the sheep lived long and comfortable, but always in fear.


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