Needs

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Like a lot of kids of my generation, I read A Day No Pigs Would Die in school. It's set in rural Vermont in the 1930's. The protagonist, a teenage boy, wants a store-bought coat, not wanting to look poor in front of his schoolmates. When his father explains they can't afford it, he insists he needs it. His father says:

Need is a weak word. Has nothing to do with what people get. Ain't what you need that matters. It's what you do.

That bit has stuck with me ever since. To say we need something is just to assert the unacceptability of the consequence of doing without it. Some things we really do need for personal or family survival. Some things really are essential to our most vital goals.

But much of the time, "need" is tossed around where "want" would serve better.

What do you really need? What consquences are truly unacceptable? What do you merely want?

Is pursuing your wants interfering with satisfying your needs?

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