All his life man, each of us that is, walks on a high wire trying to balance needs against wishes.
Neglecting the former gets him in conflict with his inner self while exaggerating with the later usually gets him in trouble with his fellow humans.
On the other hand over indulging one’s needs and giving up his wishes transforms an ordinary human being into another fat and lazy member of a herd destined to the slaughter-house.
Let me give you some examples.
Since no one is able to make it completely on his own everybody has the need to belong – to a family, a group of friends, a nation. Because everyone wants to be himself we all have the desire to be different.
We all need to eat but those who cannot control their desire for more and more ‘tasty’ food become fat.
Some of us buy cars in order to drive to work while others become bankrupt buying two-seater convertibles.
The easy way out of this is to consider needs as being ‘natural’, intrinsic to the human nature, and desires as being a product of one’s imagination. Abraham Maslow traveled this road and obtained some remarkable results, stacked into his famous pyramid. Only he failed to notice, or didn’t have time to elaborate on this – he died rather young – the social and cultural dimensions of what he called ‘needs’.
Society – and culture – largely determines what food is available, and the quality of the breathing air in the inner cities, but it’s each of us who says ‘I’ve had enough’ and stops eating or moves to the country-side.
Society sets the rules for gun ownership but it’s the individual who pulls, or not, the trigger.
Cultural norms have shifted a lot about what it means to belong and what kind of love is socially admissible but it’s the individual who falls in love or feels abandoned.
Now that we got this far I don’t think I need to explain that no one is able to build any kind of self esteem outside social intercourse nor the fact that each individual interprets in his own particular way the diverse reactions he elicits from those around him.
And, finally, the self actualization! No matter how prolific one’s imagination or plentiful one’s resources that person cannot diverge too much from the cultural or societal norms or else he’ll end up in the loony bin …
Take care and mind that balancing pole – common sense that is!