NEED or WANT? How do you distinguish between "need" and "want"?
I say: don't.
I know it's tempting to draw this distinction. Your child whines to you that they NEED the latest thingamajig, and you find yourself saying, "No, you don't NEED it, you only WANT it." Or maybe you find yourself employing a need/want distinction when deliberating with yourself: you ask yourself, "Do I really need this, or only want it?"
But let's do away with the need/want distinction. The fact is, we don't know where to usefully draw a line between "need" and "want." Even something as basic as food turns out to be dispensable for those so committed to a cause that they go on a hunger strike -- even unto death, should it come to that.
There's a somewhat different distinction that will serve us much better: the difference between a need and a strategy. Here we understand "need" as something universal -- or nearly so. X qualifies as a "need" if X is something that pretty much everybody is attracted toward having if they haven't gotten it in a while. With oxygen, "a while" is less than a minute. With food, sleep, and exercise, "a while" may be several hours to a day.
According the Center for Nonviolent Communication, people have needs for connection (acceptance, affection, appreciation, belonging, cooperation, communication, closeness, community, companionship, compassion, consideration, consistency, empathy, inclusion, intimacy, love, mutuality, nurturing, respect/self-respect, security, stability, support, to know and be known, to see and be seen, to understand and be understood, trust, warmth); for physical wellbeing (air, food, movement/exercise, rest/sleep, sexual expression, safety, shelter, touch, water); for honesty (authenticity, integrity, presence); for play (joy, humor); for peace (beauty, communion, ease, equality, harmony, inspiration, order); for autonomy (choice, freedom, independence, space, spontaneity); and for meaning (awareness, celebration of life, challenge, clarity, competence, consciousness, contribution, creativity, discovery, efficacy, effectiveness, growth, hope, learning, mourning, participation, purpose, self-expression, stimulation, to matter, understanding).
Whether we call these "needs" or "wants," they are universal. Everybody wants these things. We're all attracted toward getting each of these -- particularly if we haven't had it for a while. We might, by force of will, deny ourselves some need for the sake of something even more important to us -- as a person on a hunger strike does -- but there's no denying that we do feel the attraction. The universality of that attraction is what qualifies it as a "need."
A "strategy" on the other hand is particular -- not universal. A strategy is an approach, method,or device deployed for the purpose of satisfying a need. That thingamajig your child is pleading for is probably a strategy. So when you find yourself about to say:
"It's not a need, it's only a want"try saying instead:
"That sounds like a strategy for meeting a need. Can you tell me what need the thingamajig would be a strategy for meeting? And can we think together about whether there might be alternative ways to meet that need?"Yours in the faith we share,
Join a Journey Group: http://cucwp.org/journey-groups
I.C.Y.M.I. (In Case You Missed It)
The Mar 5 service, "Spirituality of Change" (sermon by Rev. Evin Carvill Ziemer):
The Feb 26 service, "The Ecological Thought"
It’s time again for our Ecospiritual practice for this month – brought to you by Community UU’s Environmental Practices Social Justice Team: Slow Life.
Imagine a sustainable culture, a restored Earth, where humans serve and support the greater whole of the biosphere that sustains us all. Wouldn’t the people be living at a healthier, calmer pace – not perpetually exhausted, stressed, subsisting on fast food, without time to relax and savor the pleasures of life? Our bodies and psyches are ill equipped to handle the myriad incessant demands and pressures that raise our blood pressure and give us indigestion.
Since a slower pace also tends to be environmentally friendly, slow-life choices move the world toward sustainability.
We can say no to additional obligations, tend to personal boundaries; stay home and hang out with our families, eat real food, maybe turn hanging the laundry outdoors into a meditation. These are soul-healing and Earth-healing choices.
Ecospiritual practices for this month include:
“breathing the hours:” several times a day step away from the flow of ordinary life and create a brief liminal space amid daily tasks.
Second, “Slow Down Dinner”: Once a week – or once a month -- together with friends or family, communally plan and cook a meal entirely from scratch.
Third, “Conveniences that Maybe Aren’t.” Make a list of every technology in your home that didn’t exist 100 years ago. Then go over your list and evaluate how each item really affects the overall quality of your life. Then act accordingly.
For details on these, as well as group activities for your Ecospiritual group, see the full post: Slow Life.
Here it is, your...
MOMENT OF ZEN
#149: Non Sequitur
The issue before us -- as, in Zen, it always is -- is the concrete fact. Woodpecker's excursion into abstraction is the non sequitur.
It's rather a striking turn of phrase, though. Without Buddha, no dew.
Kind of a tasty snack at that.
That evening Woodpecker asked, "I've heard that without Buddha there would be no dew on the grass. What do you think?
Raven said, "Tonight we're all out of snacks."
Woodpecker said, "You're full of non sequiturs these days."
Raven said, "Ah, Woodpecker, you should talk."
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