Monday, February 2, 2009

February 2009 - WANT: Want versus need

How do each of us determine what we need versus what we want? Clearly, it is a question asked by many and often. From individuals, to groups, to businesses, to a country, to people steeped in abject poverty, to those who have wealth beyond imagination, each will have different views. Trying to break this concept down to the basics seems to raise more questions than absolute clarity.

Trying to answer this question, here are some references.

Want vs. Need: Basic Economics

Understanding Need versus Want

However, a good definition for the want versus need concept comes from Learning to Give in the paper "Definition of Want vs. Need" By Lorren Clark who was a graduate student at Grand Valley State University. The paper was developed by Lorren while taking a Philanthropic Studies course taught at Grand Valley State University.

From my personal perspective, needs are the absolutes. Economics says food and shelter are our needs. I must agree with that but they missed a couple things that may seem like givens and not considered needs, but I view them as even more basic needs.

First, the air you breath is a need. Bottom line here is that without this particular life sustaining element, your time within this existence is short.

Second, a specific environment is a need. The environment includes air but expands further to the temperature range, atmosphere contents and its stability.

Without these first two, even your food and shelter needs may not be possible. I truly believe that if we don't understand and preserve these, we can kiss our needs and wants goodbye. If you only think about "your" needs and wants, but miss the big picture, then time is short.

But even more basic a need is "survival". After thinking about it, this is our one basic need. This one drives everything else. In fact, it is at the core of being. All other needs layer out from that center with degrees of importance based on how long we can "survive" without a particular need.

If we assume this to be true, then next we would look at the needs beyond those directly related to our survival, although currently I can not think of anything either need or want that doesn't "affect" our survival.

As a species we do run into dilemmas, such as the need/want of let's say nuclear weapons. Most can agree that we don't really "want" nuclear weapons, but at some relative period in time we needed them to assure our survival. We can probably agree that if they were never created than we wouldn't need them. But in fact there are many things that once they exist become a need, because without them our survival comes into question.

SO in my mind, things get a bit fuzzy on the whole need versus want thing. Perhaps it is time to remember that our existence is within a cycle that in turn is connected to all the universes that exist. What we do affects the universe around us and in response the universe applies the results back upon us.

Therefore, be aware that what you want could become a need and that need could either positively or adversely affect your basic need of survival.

Wow, I tried to tell you this WANT theme was way more complex than I originally thought.


Written for NaBloPoMo, the theme for February is "WANT"

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