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  • Reverend James Squire

I Just Had To Have It

I have a good friend who has a passion for antiques and other historic memorabilia. He is also one of the smartest and most articulate people that I know. Sometimes he will visit an antique shop that has something that gets his attention. When he appears with this item, I will mention, “Why did you buy it”? His response is the classic, “I just had to have it!” The purchase only makes sense to him and no one else.

I have another friend who desires something that has great risk to securing this desired item, and I and others will remind him that “be careful that you don’t get what you pray for.” He has suffered through failure after failure for he forgot that how you begin an enterprise can set you up for failures that are a consequence of an earlier choice that you could live to regret.

These two phrases define our Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, and his inability to create a united party to pass legislation to continue to form a budget for our government.

I remember seeing bits and pieces of the news as he was running for Speaker of the House. This was his dream. He went through vote after vote of rejection and humiliation until he became the last man standing and became Speaker of the House. Then he made a deal with the devil known as Maga. This past week after failure on all his efforts to fund the government, he had to know that all the rejections during this past week would not bode well for the Republicans. I remember when he finally got enough votes so he could grab the gavel which was given to him and he stared at it for a short period of time before raising it up like a trophy. I said to myself that “this is going to end badly.” This week of people turning him into a political punching bag and bad joke was a conclusion that most people saw coming and felt. It was just a matter of time.

McCarthy’s current dilemma being played out on the most public of stages can remind us of the difference between “needs” versus “wants” in our own lives. We venture forth in peril if we do as McCarthy has done to conflate his needs with wants as being one in the same. They are not.

Needs normally address issues that are necessary for our survival such as air, water, food, and anything that carries us forward as a species. Needs are primordial, which means that they have been with us since the dawn of time and because of that play a deep role in our very existence. Abraham Maslow, a psychologist, established what he referred to as a hierarchy of needs from the most needed which is physiological needs, safety, belongingness needs, esteem needs which when met leads to self-actualization or wholeness. These needs build on one another like a pyramid.

McCarthy needed to have all of the above needs met before he could arrive at wholeness. Certainly, his safety needs weren’t being met because one vote could remove him from office. He had divided loyalties between the moderate Republicans and the Conservative Maga Republicans. Loyalties shifted and he found himself in neither camp as he tried to appease both going so far as to start impeachment proceedings against Joe Biden to make the extreme right happy. His self-esteem had to be very low in a battle in which he felt that his back was against the wall as he was becoming more desperate by the minute.

His wanted to become Speaker of the House which were was made public to politicians and to people in general before the vote. He even moved his office into the Speaker’s Office before the election even occurred.

His wants and needs became one. That is what made this story so tragic.

As people we get into trouble when we conflate the two, needs and wants, as we see with Kevin McCarthy’s political dilemma. We see that, like all passions, they can cause us and our nation great pain if we venture into that dimension of “I can have it all!” My response is, “No you can’t!” A theme in my blogs is “when passion arrives, reason leaves.”

How can we avoid going down the road that McCarthy is currently on? Make sure that your choice is going to meet your needs for all those hierarchies that Maslow mentions, then, and only then ask the hard question, “Do I really want this in such a way that I will not sacrifice my wants on the table of a choice that will lift us and others up by the decision that I make?”

Make sure that your choice is grounded in reality and not in a situation that will cloud your path forward.


Raise the hard question posed by Carlos Castaneda, an American writer, who said that there is only one question that you should ask and that McCarthy should have asked after ballot after ballot for the speakership, “Does this path have heart?” No one should be surprised by where we are now on the eve of the government not having a budget passed.

But there is more. The Maga Republicans knew exactly what they were doing by waiting through vote after vote. They knew that their wants would be met and not the needs of our nation. It was an untenable position that gave them the power to march one step further to an authoritarian style of government while the moderates knew that they preferred a democracy.

The question that has not been asked is, “What do we need and want from our government? A nation can be subject to the same heartache that McCarthy is experiencing right now as one person.

“I just had to have it!” “Be careful that you don’t get what you pray for.” “Does this path have heart? There is a difference between what you need and what you want as an individual as well as a nation.

McCarthy is learning these ethical truths the hard way. Pray for him!

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