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Wants or Needs?

During an online discussion, a topic came up of current societal values and how we as a society have lost focus and definition between wants and needs in life. It has been on my mind a great deal the last few days so I thought I would re-post my comments in that discussion and perhaps elaborate on them a little:

As far as I am concerned (and my children have been raised with this), our tangible NEEDS are:

food – food that is nutritious and balanced, this doe not include pre-packaged treats, restaurants or even steaks. It includes fruit, vegetables, grains and meat. Anything else is extra.

shelter – this is a safe place to live that protects us from the elements. This could be an apartment, house, shared accommodations or living with a grandparent or relative (I had to move back with my mom for awhile when my son was 5 or 6). This does not necessarily include, separate bedrooms for every child, rec rooms, hot tubs, more than one bathroom or 500 square feet per person. This obviously would include electricity for heat in our climate but not TV, Video Games, PVR’s, Satellite, Computers, Internet…

clothing – suitable clothing that protects us from the elements. This does not include name brands, trendy styles or the latest fads – it may not even include brand new clothing for that matter.

Safety – I grew up without a phone of any sort in my home until I was about 13. While technically a telephone is not a physical need, I think every house should have a land line for emergencies, I feel that this is a need. A cell phone, Internet etc, that is a convenience which make them wants not needs.

That means that budgeting for needs only you would require money for rent/mortgage, electricity, groceries, phone and clothing. Everything else is a variable and would depend on available funds.

As far as intangible needs, here is what I think:

education – we all need a minimum of a grade 12 education and access to and support for this is a need for every child. Post-secondary education, as much as I value it, is a privilege that must be earned and worked for.

health care – I am so grateful that as of right now Canada has free health care, hopefully that never changes. But along with the government giving us that, children need parents to value it, provide access to care and medication, vaccinations and preventative medicines.

Security – children need to know that they are valued and loved. They need 24/7 adult supervision until they become able to care for themselves. that means that parents provide adequate child care arrangements in or out of the home when they are unable to be with their children. This does not meant that parents need to be with their children all the time or even that children need that, but they need to know someone is caring for them. This would also include quality time with parents and open displays of affection and/or encouragement and positive reinforcement.

Discipline – we all need discipline – we need to know that their are boundaries, rules and consequences.

Acceptance – We all need (especially children) to feel accepted by our peers hence the term ‘keeping up with the Jones’ – this could mean similar homes, landscaping, vehicles, clothing and extra-curricular activities to our neighborhood or social groups. While this is a need, the decision of which neighborhood or social group that is would be a want determined by resources – you wouldn’t move to Beverly Hills if you only made $30k a year.

I wonder how many of us live our lives with a clear-cut definition of what our true needs are. How many of us (myself included) feel like we need a computer, need the Internet, need a cell phone, need new clothes, need entertainment money… If our resources were cut, could we live without them or would we sacrifice money for food and shelter for them? Have our values as a society really gone so far down that we have become slaves to things and forgotten what truly matters? I think we have – I think we ALL have and it saddens me. I think for myself it might be time for some ‘back to basics’ discipline of my own. How about you?

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 at 4:01 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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