The Needs of the Many

Jun. 20th, 2016

Lately, whenever I hear about any tragedy, in which human choice played a part, I always experience two distinct things. First, naturally, I feel sadness for the suffering of the victims, their families, and humanity at large for the blow we all must suffer when basic human rights are violated. The second thing I feel is curiosity: what did that individual need, that they were not getting, that caused them to make this choice?

Every living thing on this planet has needs. Humans often confuse needs with wants, and therein lies part of the problem. I differentiate them by duration. In my experience, of myself, a want will fade with time and a need will remain, or even increase, with neglect. When a human’s needs are not met, they go about trying to get them met, sometimes in destructive ways.

What wrongs were perpetrated in the past that contributed to violence in the present? What word or deed could have healed a hurt that caused blood to be spilled? Who first taught the lesson of hate that, snowball-like, gained momentum and power, eventually destroying many lives?

Needs left unmet can cause harm on a much smaller scale. Sleep deprivation can cause a new mother to snap at a salesperson. Low blood sugar can cause a customer to be impatient with a waitress. We are all, of course, always responsible for our choices, but we are also affected by our needs.

Self care, as I have said in the past, can seem selfish. Considered in this light, however, it may be seen as an act of charity and kindness to the world at large. When we take care of ourselves, our needs, we have more opportunity to treat the other people in our sphere of influence well.

What need of yours could you meet to benefit humanity?