The Word “Need”

As I write this, the Christmas season is fully upon us.  In fact, before our Christmas Eve “build-a-pageant” tonight, we had a family dinner out.  The family sitting behind us was talking about a tragic event in Colorado Springs that happened this week, and I try not to listen in to other people’s conversations, but they seemed to be talking just a little too loudly and my ears perk up when I hear things like “Why does a grown male ever need to shoot someone three times?” and “Why did they need a gun anyway?”

Those sound eerily similar to many we heard a year or so ago in Colorado when a multitude of un-heavenly hosts of gun control bills were making the rounds in the state legislature.  We were subjected to a deluge of things like “Why does anyone need an assault rifle?” and “No one needs more than 15 rounds” and “No one needs this, that, or the other.”  Need, need, need.  Apparently it’s all about need anymore.

Clearly the situation in Colorado Springs was/is a horrible one – one in which we hope never to be in ourselves.  Clearly there are things that could have or should have gone differently.  And legal issues aside, that family has to deal with what happened now.  My heart breaks for them.  In this season especially, I hope the Lord can grant them peace.

Back to the “build-a-pageant” for a second.  It’s truly a brilliant idea: the kids dress up as “any character from the Christmas story… or their most recent Halloween costume” and the results speak for themselves.  Our son was a “wise guy,” along with Spiderman and some robot/lego creature.


This wiseman delivered gifts of licorice.

Did the church “need” to put the pageant on?  No, but the universe sure does appreciate it.

How did the word “need” turn into this condescending cop-out for rational thought and real solutions?  In fact, when you say it from now on, you need to say it with the tip of your nose raised about 30 to 35 degrees above horizontal and in your best Hahvahd accent (you know, that school in Cambridge).  “You don’t NEED an assault rifle to hunt deer.”

In fact, yeah, pretty much exactly like this:

Here’s a better question: do we still NEED a Vice President?

Oh, the snobbery!  When you have 24/7 armed security, of course you don’t need a gun.  Duh.

You see, here’s my problem with the word “need:” it always comes packaged in 500 pounds of assumptions, inaccuracies, and unicorn tears.  I don’t need a submarine.  I don’t need a cowboy hat.  I don’t need courtside Clippers tickets (although the view wouldn’t be terrible).

But what kind of a low-life pushes their own personal needs onto other people?  You must be that perfect kind of special if you think you can decide for everyone else how best to live their lives.

Here’s a tip: if you hate something and you wish it would just go away forever, try having a conversation about it that doesn’t include the word “need.”  I dare you.

Carry on, Colorado!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


10 pounds of cute in a 5 pound bag.


2 comments on “The Word “Need”

  1. Steve Ford says:

    Jeff–thanks for a thoughtful piece on a tragic incident. I’d appreciate your post on how to avoid that type of incident and do what you can to keep your family safe.

    • Jeff Meek says:

      Hey Steve! I thought about going into that and decided it wouldn’t do much good. Sometimes “tragic” and “accident” doesn’t mean it was avoidable. There’s a LOT about this story that we don’t (and probably won’t) know, and those details make all the difference. What I will say is that identifying your target is always a good thing, which is another reason I’m a flashlight nerd… but sometimes that’s also unrealistic. I’m thinking of the story where a woman had a burglar breaking into her house and she called her next-door neighbor, who she knew had a gun. The neighbor man arrives, shoots and kills the burglar (who was wearing a ski mask), then finds out that the “burglar” was in fact his own teenage son who had decided to play a prank on the woman.

      So unfortunately, frequently there are more questions than there are answers. In many situations like this one, our moral hurt and longing for answers leads to seeking legal “revenge,” and then we question the legal system when that doesn’t provide us what we need to fill the hole inside. That’s one of the reasons so many were so violently angry after the Zimmerman verdict – they wanted answers that they hoped the legal system could, and didn’t, provide.

      For those of us that are religious, we take solace in the fact that God has a plan for us – and even if we don’t understand it (or like it), it’s comforting knowing we’re part of something much bigger than us.

      I hope that helps.

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