The principle of need

FRIDAY, 8 OCTOBER 2004

A hungry man sits down at a table laden with the most delicious foods. There is a bit of everything: pizza, pasta, bread and cheese, salads, cold cuts, chicken pie, barbecued meat, desserts, pie, cake, junk food, healthy food …

The hungry man digs in, and he eats without taking a break for more than an hour. There is no way that he can consume all the food, so by the time he sits back, more than three-quarters of the table is still covered with plates, pots and pans full of food.

As the previously hungry man gets ready to leave the table, in walks another hungry man, which, for the sake of the point I want to make, is not allowed to sit down at the table. “How can you walk away from a table with so much good food?” asks the hungry man. “There’s so much food that you haven’t even touched!”

“I understand your distress,” says the man as he gently caresses his stomach. “But,” he sighs, “I’m full. My needs, which previously were exactly the same as yours, are now satisfied.”

Now, you can criticize the happy man, perhaps pointing out that he satisfied his appetite by just gobbling down the pizza and the junk food. But the man will still shrug and reply, “What can I say? I have had enough. I am satisfied.”

Will he stay satisfied? Most likely not, but that’s another story.

Point is this: if a need is no longer a need, it does not really matter what any prophet, poet, scholar or professional academic has to say about it, because the need … will simply no longer be a need.

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