Want versus need | Letter

I come from a family of five children of which I am the middle child. Because of this, I was taught a very important principal early in my youth which to this day has helped me rationalize and competently decide on issues and choices as an adult, husband, father and responsible citizen. That principle is “Knowing the difference between a WANT and a NEED.

I remember as a young boy wanting a Tyco electric train set for Christmas, which I have to admit was a pricey item back then. I pleaded my case with compassion and vigor to my mom and dad as well as Santa Claus at the store visit. On Christmas morning I rushed downstairs in great anticipation of opening a gift box containing my new train set, but instead of a new train set inside, there were 5 pairs of denim jeans and some tee shirts, underwear and socks and a new pair of shoes for school, along with a receipt at the bottom of the box. I was so upset that I didn’t receive the train set that I went to my folks and conveyed to them my disappointment. My dad told me to bring him the receipt which was in the box of clothes and he then pulled out the paper displaying the advertised price for the train set. The price of new clothes and shoes were nearly identical to the price of the train set. My father went on to explain that as much as he would have liked to be able to buy the train set for me as well as the clothes, it was not financially possible so they spent the money on the clothes. My dad said “a prudent and responsible person understands the difference between WANTING something and NEEDING something” and in your case, having that train set was something you WANTED but the new clothes was what you NEEDED. It took me some time to understand the lesson my dad imparted upon me that day, but now as an adult, it rings so true in my everyday decision-making process. It’s disappointing not being able to get the things you WANT when you WANT them, there are so many factors that come into play whether seen or unforeseen, that control the eventual outcome. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the situation could change in the future and that WANT may someday come to fruition, it just takes patience and good judgment. It should always be the case that the NEED should take precedence over a WANT. The question we all should be asking ourselves is what it is that we as a community NEED?

I eventually got my train set by earning the money for it myself doing yard work around the neighborhood.

Now somewhere in this story is a message, and I think my audience is smart enough to figure it out. Remember that your vote counts so don’t waste it!

Ray Jackson-Mayor

San Juan Island