I have no trouble sharing my candy, when I have plenty.
Jim Snyder even offers people cigarettes, when he has plenty.
When needs are met, one becomes generous.
Until needs are met, one will be selfish.
And it’s a good thing: I got in the fix I’m in via decades of trying to be unselfish, and I need to reverse that now. How will I ever work to put a roof over my own head, unless I become selfish?
The present series of posts began with the question of “how to help infantile persons make the transition from taking whatever one wants, what one thinks one needs, [away] from others, to making good things for oneself.” Recent experiences indicate to me that once one’s selfishness or self-esteem reaches a certain threshold, that transition occurs naturally, as a matter of course. One moves from the first phase into the second. The next transition, from neediness to generosity, likewise occurs naturally once one’s needs are met.
Semantically, it’s an oxymoron. In these terms, arrogance, insolence, egotism — wanting to take things away from others — actually reflect not an individual who is overly selfish, but rather one who’s not selfish enough.
Something’s backwards with anyone who’s jealous of the poor.
I’m convinced it begins with emotional needs.
I want to examine in some detail how neediness occurs and how needs can be met; but given limitations on my time, and my unwillingness to subject readers right away to another marathon post like “How I became homeless,” I plan to treat that in five forthcoming Saturday posts:
“Just how bad do you think you’ve got it?” – May 10, 2014
The Life Force: Use and abuse – May 17, 2014
Co-creators with God – May 24, 2014
The wandering will – May 31, 2014
The path of presence – June 7, 2014
Each link will become active only once the post appears.
In the meantime, I find a profound pertinent lesson in a story from Genesis. Beginning at chapter 39:
“20And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison. 21But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love; he gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. 22The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.
“40:1Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord the king of Egypt. 2Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4The captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he waited on them; and they continued for some time in custody.
“5One night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own meaning. 6When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7So he asked Pharaoh’s officers, who were with him in custody in his master’s house, ‘Why are your faces downcast today?’”
Look at this man, this Joseph. He went from being his father’s #1 son, to being sold by his brothers into slavery. As a slave, he had become Potiphar’s right-hand man — only to be wrongly accused by Potiphar’s wife, and so thrown into prison, where he is now. But he has again risen, to become the trusty.
Hardly anyone can say he or she has faced more drastic injustice, repeatedly, than has Joseph. But in each situation, he has not pined away, depleting his energies, lamenting what others have done. He has always, instead, focused his attention on the here-and-now and on what he himself can do to make the best of the situation.
Here he is, in the dungeon, just like those other fellows. But because of the way he has conducted himself, he has the emotional wherewithal to reach out to others in need.
What a man.
This is someone whose needs are met.
(Originally posted 05/03/14.)