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.
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.
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.”
“Marco; and Christopher; and … everybody!”
Mum pictured their big houses and flashy cars.
“Has Yin got one?”
“Why do you want it?”
“They won’t play with me if I don’t have one.”
“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 for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.