I need to want to need you to want you to need me!

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     THAT hurts my brain to read—-it most likely hurts yours too—-though that is not really my intention.

Sunrise in Seattle     Do you ever think about the difference between “need” and “want?”  Most people throw them both around interchangeably—-but they are actually very different.


     Is it ever appropriate to say I NEED a new car, or I NEED a bigger house, or I NEED bigger or smaller breasts etc?  Basic or primary needs cover territory like oxygen, food, water, and a relatively constant body temperature.  Without these basic needs being met, life is simply not going to be possible for very long.

     After these basic needs are met we get into the more human needs associated with security, and love. 

     When these areas of need are met we then can develop self esteem and are free to pursue our dreams in life.  If one looks at these needs in the form of a pyramid with the smallest point at the top being self esteem and the pursuit of ones dreams, we can see how society can easily keep us trapped in the bigger base of the pyramid as we struggle to have our most basic needs met.  We can actually set up whole paradigms of madness to keep us from meeting our basic needs—-resulting in whole generations of individuals (even whole cultures) that never get to pursue their dreams with self esteem.

     We can think of this in terms of the long list of things we call needs that are not really needs at all but are really just things we want.  What effect does it have on our brain at a chemical or electrical level when we tell it we “need” something that we actually only “want?”  The same things that are activated when we are deprived of food, air, and water are activated to some degree.  We become desperate, willing to fight, even kill to have those presumptuous “needs” met.

     In a very real sense, as Erich Fromm said, we have become an, “insane society.”  An irrational state of mind where as a society we are co-conspirators with all those around us to have our “wants” treated as “needs.”

     I think it might be a good idea to keep this in mind the next time we say things like we need more oil, we need more money, we need more guns, we need more government, we need less government or we need a faster car.

     Some of the things we want seem so entangled in what it takes to satisfy our basic needs, it is easy to understand how they might be confused for each other; but, we should not let that confusion interfere with making the correct choices necessary to maintain a difference—-to avoid arriving at a place where we actually think that getting what we want is the pursuit of our dream.

     The old saying, “If you are not careful you get what you want,” is very true.


Charles Buell


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