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21 The drumbeat of being needed
The good drumbeat
The past several posts
have described a pattern: surround yourself with beauty,
become aware of the beauty, and share the beauty with
others. This is a people-oriented progression when it
refers to the beauty in people. The practice brings
us closer together.
The other drumbeat
There has been a separate crescendo on
the need to be needed, showing it as a life-giving
altruism that also brings us together. What can be more
generous than meeting the needs of others?
Underneath the generosity
lurks a selfish desire, a variant of greed. For example,
a father chooses his son’s spouse and
career. The father’s excuse? “He needs me to
steer him away from disasters.” We call the father a
control freak and easily detect the fraudulent appearance
of being needed.
Some abuses are more
subtle than that example. Politicians and success coaches
alike dangle rewards in front of their audiences. They list
the usual appeals to greed such as money, leisure time,
power—going on and on. For completeness, these selling
enthusiasts throw in “and you will have more money to give away
to good social causes.” Bang! They hit the greed
button again. They appeal to the need to be needed
by offering to make somebody more powerful. Think of the
devastating effect when that wealthy somebody threatens to pull
the plug. What a sense of control!
Let’s take this to the
extreme by looking at common jealousy. If I am upset that
you have more wealth than I do, consider that my suffering has
nothing to do with wealth. Perhaps my disappointment is
that you don’t need me. My greed is not satisfied
because I have no power over you.
It is as necessary to
be needed as it is to have food.
However, there is an upper limit to satisfying either need.
Excess psychological nutrition (overdosing the “needed” bit,
becoming overly important) is also
In the next discussion,
let’s continue refining the meaning and nature of
Being For Others Blog copyright © 2020 Kent Busse
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