One often encounters such discussions, about the difference between “wants” and “needs”. Needs are dictated by a loose definition of survival or existence — that which is required by or necessitated of the things which satisfy the criteria for continued existence or maintaining of a given modality of the status quo. The other — “wants” — are defined as those “extras” that are not required for existence, but go beyond the prerequisite for survival and add to the comfort and meaningfulness of one’s very existence and survival.
There is always a grey area between the two when one engages anyone in a discussion involving the two — and it often depends upon the paradigm and perspective one takes, which leads to conclusions not only about the subject concerning wants and needs, but also about one’s own character, upbringing and attitude towards life in general.
Take the perspective of a member of the British Royal Family, for example — of a person who knows of existence entirely from the perspective of wealth, privilege and undiminished wants and needs. Such a person will often have a widely differing view of the distinction between the two, in contradistinction to a person born in the ghettos of an inner city, whether here in the United States or of more underdeveloped countries elsewhere.
Can one who has never lacked for needs, or even of wants, recognize the objective criteria that determines the differences between the two? In other words, can the poor person even have a logical discussion with a wealthy person by pointing out that food is an example of “need”, as opposed to a Ferrari being merely a “want”? Or, will the member of the Royal Family retort with, “Well, yes, I can see how cheap caviar of a subpar quality could be a need as opposed to wanting a Rolls Royce.”
Such a response, of course, tells one immediately that there will be a difficult road ahead in attempting the bridge the gap between understanding, comprehension and the art of logic and discussion. What we want, we often do not need; and what we need, we merely want for want of sufficiency.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who want to continue their careers despite a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, will often cross the threshold between wants and needs.
You may want to extend your career, but need to end it because of your medical condition. Your agency may want to be compassionate, but may need to follow directives from above. You may want to remain, but need to depart. The conflict between wants and needs is one of life’s ongoing clashes between the two, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through OPM, may need to be initiated in order to satisfy the ultimate need of one’s existence: The need to want to look after one’s health.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire