Neediness for a Better World

Janet - Hersey, Michigan
Entered on December 6, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

This I believe: that everyone should learn what it’s like to be needy because the experience of being needy instills compassion. Our world would be a much better place to live if we all practiced compassion for one another.

This past August my husband and I were able to realize our dream of bringing an adopted daughter home from Ethiopia. This event was the culmination of a three-year, nearly $30,000 journey for our family. As I am a public school teacher and my husband, a small-time carpenter, this is a journey we could not take alone, neither financially nor emotionally. And so, we were needy.

Neediness is an interesting place to be. To reach out and ask others for help you must get beyond your own pride, and be prepared to face both the humbleness that comes after experiencing the generosity of the human spirit in so many, and the humiliation to be at the mercy of everyone’s opinion. We faced these things when we came to others for help.

I believe that we should not place our expectations for the way we would personally respond to others, upon others. Saying this, however, and internalizing it, are two different places of consciousness. And so, I was met with surprise. The first of these surprises came in the form of some family, friends and strangers who understood our need and met it with such complete grace and sacrifice that I was moved beyond words. Without these people we could not have changed the life of a child. The second of these surprises came in the faces of some family and intimate friends who responded to our need with either disinterest or judgment.

This is why I believe that everyone should personally experience what it’s like to be needy. So that in the face of others’ need we don’t respond with unkindness. If a child needs a mother, or a family heat in their home or food on the table, I believe that humanity dictates that we should respond with compassion. Being needy can be a painful place to be; to be told that you made the choice to be there, or that it is irresponsible to be doing something you cannot afford yourself , even if it is significant, does not reflect the understanding that in this world we are all connected.

Yes, everyone should experience what it’s like to be needy. The compassion we develop through this knowledge, even if it is shared with just one other, will shape the human face of our world forever.