Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Want, Need

When I was in the fifth grade, I had a teacher who thought our class could use learning the difference between "wants" and "needs".

Needs, he said, were what we couldn't live without.

Wants, he said, were what we could live without but would like to have.

In life, he said, needs come before wants.

He defined needs as food, clothing, and shelter. These are things without which we cannot get along. I would argue today that food and water are necessary to life. Shelter, while mighty fine, can be got along without in many places if needs must. Even clothing is extraneous - just ask a nudist!

I often think the human world could use learning the difference between what it wants and what it needs.

The denizens of Casa de Crazy have been watching documentaries on Netflix, of late. With satellite gone and the DVD player on permanent fritz, Netflix is our entertainment buddy. Thanks to T, who lets us use his account!

We seem to have a few basic topics that interest us right now: food (growing, harvesting, processing, nutrition), water (bottling, cleanliness, scarcity), marijuana (the disparity between public will, state law, and federal law, growing, medicinal uses, prohibition in general), and corporate culture (companies that are aware of and work to minimize their social and environmental impact, companies that seek to show a clean, compassionate public face while in truth they have little concern for anything but the lining of their pockets, and companies that don't even try to hide their ugliness).

Oddly, many of the subjects overlap.

Common to many of the shows we've seen is privation. If you live in North America, chances are you have, or can fairly easily find, food and potable water. Chances are also good that you have or can find shelter and clothing. In the US, a couple of dumpster dives can garner perfectly good food for a month. A few more in the right place can garner meat for a year. I am seriously considering my local markets and their dumpsters. In the US we throw away 3,000 pounds of food a second. Throw away. We don't even compost it or feed it to pigs; it all goes into landfills.

In other places, though, people feel lucky to eat a few times a week. Potable water is a pipe dream, let alone clean, clear, easily accessible water from a convenient tap. Often, governments and corporations make it difficult or impossible for the poorest, most desperate of people to meet their own needs, instead fostering dependence on aid from others; usually the very governments and corporations that seek to (and often do) control natural resources and the generation of wealth.

Now don't get me wrong, I actually aspire to wealth...but not at the expense of others or the environment.

So many people in this world can't even meet their own needs. We do without a lot of wants (while I may joke that I need the Internet to live, life goes on without it) but we have plenty of clean, fresh water on demand, and while we may get tired of leftovers and cheap foods, we don't go hungry at Casa de Crazy. No one has yet mandated that we choose between drinking toxic ground water or paying with our lives for dubious tap water, or decreed that we can't grow our own food, or passed laws that said we cannot collect rain water for our gardens (sorry Arizona, Oregon, and...umm...I can't recall who else had rainwater collection bans).

I want many things - to be able to buy nappies for Sprout, to go to a movie sometimes, to pay the phone bill, to be free (if only for a little while) of my first-world worries about paying car insurance or the Internet bill without having to borrow (borrow, borrow, borrow, but never able to pay back) from Mum to do it. Folks, I pure loathe being an Albatross.

Need though? I think we've got that covered in spades.

How about you?


Michelle Roebuck said...

I think that if I can impart little else to Noodle and Mouse about how to live in the world besides discernment between "wants" and "needs", I will count myself successful!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder to separate needs from wants. I have been worrying a great deal over the wants meanwhile forgetting the needs are met.