I know I’ve written recently about wants and needs and our perspectives on them but it’s a recurring theme. Well, life doesn’t just stop and it never seems to go easy either, at least not my one.
Another aspect to this wants and needs thing is how people seem to be increasingly seeing things as their ‘right’ rather than a need. Even worse, I’m sure that most of those ‘needs’ are just wants. When push comes to shove, could you really do without?
There are all sorts of things that make our lives feel better, little luxuries that we feel that we can’t go without. A favourite magazine, a morning coffee, some fancy lipstick, that posh chocolate. And sometimes our mental health does have to come first. But seriously, are they needs or just wants? Realistically, wouldn’t life go on without them?
Our grandparents and even our parents had a very different experience, many of them had no heating, no indoor toilet, limited lighting and running water probably was a cold tap. That’s not so very long ago, a life time ago, less than. We’re now prissy wusses when it comes to such things, claiming that all of these things are the basic rights of civilisation. Um, no.
Darkness is a normal, natural phenomenon. I know too many adults who are scared of the dark, whose lives and homes are only safe when basking in a minimum 40 watt glow. We are repeatedly told not to walk home (we don’t have transport anymore) in the dark. It isn’t safe. Bad things happen in the dark. We look at these mature adults a little crazy. It’s winter. It’s dark until nearly 9h and after 16h, sometimes 15h. When exactly do you propose we go out? Yeah, exactly.
Bad things happen, sure, we know that. But you can take precautions and use common sense. And bad things don’t just happen because it’s dark. The sad truth is that they can just happen. No rhyme or reason. You don’t have to be asking for it by walking down a lighted main road. For most of the adults I know, there are more monsters lurking in the streets than there are under the bed or behind the wardrobe of any three-year-old.
We tend to leave a light on for youngsters, a comfort in the alien dark in case they wake up. Sadly I don’t think we’re encouraging them to grow out of the habit anymore and even sadder, I think it’s more of a comfort for the parents. Darkness is meant to happen, that’s so we and the world can get some rest. It’s beautiful not scary.
I could tell you about heating attitudes too. I know parents who won’t take their children out if it’s snowy and icy because it’s too cold out there, the reality is that they’re going to be bundled into a car, a modern car whose heater works perfectly, and travel somewhere about 10-15 minutes away where there’s central heating. I kid you not. Cold has ceased to be an enemy instead it’s now a monster, lurking at the boundaries of centrally heated homes where it’s 25° in the winter and occupants are resplendent in short sleeves. It’s probably colder in the summer, ironically.
We can’t afford to run much heating, if any, so we don’t. We’re looked at as if we’re out of our minds and told that we’ll die of hypothermia. The idea of putting a jumper on is fast becoming an alien concept. Dressing warmly because it’s cold rather than creating some false atmosphere is considered strange, I’m laughed at for wearing thermals. The last couple of central heating free winters have actually been our healthiest with fewer coughs and colds. We appreciate the seasons more and have learnt a thing or two about layers.
We’ve had no end of problems with our boiler so in the last year it’s only probably been working for three, four months. It’s frustrating and doesn’t particularly make our lives very easy. Yet I’m always surprised at the reaction I get from other people when I say we don’t have any hot water. Yes, hot water has also made it to the list of human rights. Basic human rights. Is it really? I think you’ll find it’s access to clean water still. Nothing about running or heated.
It makes me reflect. How grateful are we for these things that make our lives easier? Are we looking at them as a ‘right’ or do we look at the rest of the world, and tragically it’s probably the majority of places, and realise that these things are luxuries? Do we appreciate that hot running water, a full belly of our favourite meal, streets never mind homes where we’re minimally at risk and safe, modern transport at our convenience are things that not everyone in the world can even dream of? There’s probably even places and families in our own countries for whom these things are not guaranteed.
Sorry, I think we need a reality check folks.