What the world needs now

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills is talking about needs. She questions why necessities sometimes feel like luxuries and why basic necessities, such as drinking water and access to a bathroom, incur a fee. While she is temporarily homeless, she is seeing first hand some of the ongoing difficulties of others faced with long-term homelessness. Surely to be treated with some compassion and afforded the dignity of respect is equally a basic human need and a right.

what do living things need

Young children begin to learn about needs when they start caring for plants and animals. In science they learn about the needs of living things and how those needs are met. It is not long before they start to learn about the differences between a need and a want. This understanding, and acceptance, can take a long time to develop. Some never develop it.

need want

Perhaps if there was a greater understanding of the difference between a need and a want, the gap between those who have much and those who have little would decrease. But perhaps not. While there is little increase to basic needs over time, the wants increase exponentially; and the more one has, the more one wants.

If it is difficult for adults to distinguish between needs, wants and must haves, imagine how much more difficult it is for young children. It is possibly even more difficult for young children in an age with frequent replacement of one model for another, one gadget and one gimmick for another; the latest is always the best.

This difficulty is the focus of my flash fiction response to Charli’s challenge to in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that explores human needs.

The latest thingamajig

“But Mum, I need it. Everyone’s got one.”

“Who?”

“Marco; and Christopher; and … everybody!”

Mum pictured their big houses and flashy cars.

“Has Yin got one?”

“No.”

“Amir?”

“No.”

“Why do you want it?”

“They won’t play with me if I don’t have one.”

“Who?”

“Marco and Christopher.

“I thought Yin and Amir were your friends.”

“But Marco and Christopher are cool.”

“And you want to be cool like Marco and Christopher?”

His eyes flickered.

“Will you still be cool when they get the next best thing? What about Yin and Amir? Will they still be your friends?”

####

In a recent post Home is where the start is, I wrote about the importance of the early years to a child’s development. I suggested that it is difficult to regain what is missed in those early years. However, as Sarah Brentyn who blogs at Lemon Shark said: it may be difficult, but not impossible to make improvements. Sarah was concerned that parents may not make an effort if they thought it was too late. I agree with Sarah that it is never too late to make improvements. However, it is much more difficult to change established patterns and to make up for lost learning time. Not impossible. Difficult. It is even more difficult for those who have not had their basic needs met.

An article in the Huffington Post on June 30 compares two boys who were born on the same day in the same town, but will have dramatically different lives. The boys are now five years old. One boy who received a diet of nutrient-rich foods is now at school, making good progress, and has many friends.

The parents of the other boy were too poor to do the same for their child. He now suffers from chronic malnutrition, or “stunting”, which affects growth, strength of the immune system, and brain function. According to the article, 1 in 4 children worldwide suffer from chronic malnutrition. The statistics reported in the article are quite confronting, and challenge a privileged view of needs and wants.

After reading the article, it is with some embarrassment that I now admit to a need to be away from the blogosphere for the next few weeks. I will be back intermittently to read and respond to your comments. I apologise in advance for any delay in doing so. Please know that I do enjoy our conversations and appreciate your comments. I will be back to respond to you as soon as I can.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

18 thoughts on “What the world needs now

  1. Sacha Black

    Lovely flash Norah, it’s a conversation I fear I will have in the future with my own son.

    Embarrassment? What is this nonsense. We’re all allowed a break. The blog should never become a chore. We’re not going anywhere. I hope you enjoy the break and come back refreshed. 😀 ❤

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  2. roughwighting

    I think there should be a ‘course’ on need and want in every child’s and every adult’s life. Your post would be part of the lesson. So well said/written. I try to impart this wisdom on my grandchildren, but so many kids are given what they ‘want’ this day and age, it seems, than what is needed. Thanks for reminding us all about the importance of sharing these values. And good flash fiction! Hope you have a good break.

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  3. elliotttlyngreen

    This seems to have an underlying theme of nature vs nurture as well. And beyond all the studies and reflections and observations, we need both. Our nature seems to be speeding faster than our nurture can sustain. Having grown into the thingamajig age rather than born into it, as well as comixing streetsmarts with book, and being raised in the great divorce culture with the cold war kids… theres a relevant perspective ive always tried to balance with both sides and keeping an openness about say nature and nurture or organic vs technologic or examples therein. Like, birth parents typical white american born, and half raised by a mexican american stepfather… that balance is indeed necessary. For example, my dad taught me carpentry and we always had video games and cable television, while at my moms i was taught fishing and how to fiddle rabbit ears for a better reception, yet also this separation from that fast processing world into the unplugged and a sort of slow glimpse of time before the enduring shadow of electricity permanently attached itself…… It is definitely good and necessary to disconnect and getaway. We can only hope the millenial and 911 kids recognize that as we become the last teachers of a time before a time (so to speak). Enjoy the break!! Teach that. Your kids will ‘getit’ someday. I feel like i need and want to reassure that.

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    1. Norah Post author

      What a great comment, Elliott. Thank you for adding your wisdom to the mix. Your experience has taught you a lot and I am grateful that you wish to share it here. I agree with you that balance is hwat is required, and understanding for and with each other. There are always great lessons to learn. Thanks for sharing yours.

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  4. Gulara

    You will be missed Norah, but I’m so glad you are taking time to yourself. It’s so important to nurture ourselves and give time to our creative minds to rest and recharge. Your flash is excellent! So many of us can relate. I certainly can. As someone who didn’t have cool things and was desperate to fit in and be cool 🙂 As to for the distinction between wants and needs… I don’t think they are always clear in this household. When Caspian says: I need a chocolate cookie, it’s often hard to convince that perhaps, just perhaps, it is a want 😀 He sounds very convincing when he says that, and I must admit I myself fall into that trap from time to time (where cake is concerned). 😀 Anyway, have a great time away from blogosphere. See you soon.xx

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  5. TanGental

    I do agree that wants and needs can get horrible muddled at times. Realizing that most things are actually wants is very liberating. Shame it’s taken me 50 plus years… Have a good break from the blog though I sense it doesn’t mean you are relaxing!!

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  6. Steven

    There should be no embarrassment in addressing a need. May your time of disconnectedness bring you reflection, insight and assistance to both yourself and others.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Steven. I appreciate your philosophical words wisdom and support. You have just made it in. I am turning off my computer now! Hopefully when next I turn it on, I’ll be relaxed and refreshed with new things to write about. (Of course, I’ll be checking in on my iPad from time to time, but it is not a very cooperative editor!)

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  7. Annecdotist

    This confusion between needs and wants is very sad for all of us, and well captured in your flash. Reflecting on your own need/want to be away from the blogosphere for a while, as well as the many things I do to safeguard my well-being, I wonder if we NEED a word midway between the two to identify those things that will be good for us but aren’t essential for our survival. I think sometimes the latest gadget that young children desire can also fall into this category – it’s tough to expect them to manage the social pressures of the consumerist society when so many adults can’t, and subsequently fall into debt. I think the parent in your flash was doing a good job in trying to get her child to think about the implications of what he’s asking for, but it’s a lot to manage alongside everything else.
    Enjoy your break and look forward to reconnecting soon.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Anne. Thanks for your comment. I second your motion for a word between Need and Want. There are many things we need for our own sanity, that don’t fall into the basic needs category. As it is for all of us, it is so for children – there is a “basic” need to fit in, to belong, to be accepted. The child in the flash was showing that. It is difficult for the child to realise that friendship is in more than things and in being “cool”, and difficult for a parent who wishes a child to fit in and be accepted but who can’t afford to jump on the “must have” train either philosophically or financially. I’m pleased I was successful in capturing some of those inner battles in my flash.
      I am looking forward to the break. It has come at a good time when I need to cool down from website stresses. Spending holiday time with my grandchildren and their parents will put me back in the six-year old frame of mind, where I like to be! 🙂

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  8. Prior-2001

    I hope you have a nice break….
    I did not see the Huntington post article – but how sad – how sad for so many – oh and my thoughts and prayers are with Charli at this time –
    🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Yvette.
      I agree. It is very sad. It is easy to get caught up in our own problems and not give a thought to those who dream of problems such as the ones we face.
      Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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  9. Bec Colvin

    Hi Nor, this is a very powerful post, and a great FF. You capture the allure of wealth and status very nicely. I am sorry to hear about Charli’s difficulties, and I hope all the best for her and family. I also hope you enjoy your time away from the blog!

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