Dennis Prager

Among the things left and right, religious and secular, agree on is that one of the few real needs human beings have is to be needed.

When we are not needed, life feels pointless.

The need to be needed is universal. Men need it; women need it. The sexes may feel needed in different ways, but the depth of the need is the same. Many women feel particularly alive when needed by their young children; many men feel worthy when needed by their family and/or their work. That is why most women navigate difficult emotional straits when their adult children leave home and assume independent lives, and why most men find it so crushing to lose their job -- not necessarily because of loss of income, but because of the loss of meaning that comes from no longer being needed.

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Only when we are needed do we believe we have significance. Give a boy a special task -- just about any task -- and he blossoms. Give a girl a person -- in fact, almost any living being -- who depends on her, and she blossoms.

Of course, there are also myriad unhealthy ways of feeling needed. If an unwed teenage girl has a baby in order to feel needed, it is usually a bad thing for her, for the child and for society. If a boy joins a gang to feel needed/significant, it is bad for him and society.

Though not consciously intending to, over time, the left destroys people's ability to be needed and, therefore, to be or feel significant.

As I regularly note, the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen. One can add: The bigger the government, the less significant the citizen -- especially men.

This is easy to explain because it is definitional. The more the state does, the less its citizens are needed to do. One well-known example is the way welfare robbed so many men of significance when women and their children came to depend financially on the state.

And it goes further than that. In order to feel significant, men not only need to have others depend on them, they also need to depend on themselves, on their own work and initiative. But that, too, is destroyed as the state gets bigger. Fewer and fewer people work for themselves (which leads to, among other things, the disappearance of that quintessentially American ideal of the risk-taking entrepreneur).

It gets worse. As being needed and significant shifts from the individual to the state, the state increasingly determines who is needed and who has significance.

That means, first of all, politicians. Obviously, whoever controls the ever-expanding government has the most significance in a society.


Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.
 
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