The Hierarchy of Want

Advent always gets me thinking about longing, including the many layers of desire inside me. I want a lot of stuff—some material and some immaterial:

  • a new jacket
  • a new computer
  • tickets to Disneyland
  • a graduate degree
  • getting out of credit card debt*
  • uncluttered counters
  • my neighbors to be more considerate in the laundry room
  • my fellow humans to be treated with dignity
  • introvert time
  • to feel loved
  • to actually be loved
  • for my loved ones to feel and be loved

There are so many layers to desire.

I spent most of my life suppressing desire because I had inadvertently learned that it was selfish and ungrateful to want. But over the past 5-6 years, with the help of many therapists (mostly friends, but also one I’ve seen professionally), I’ve been on a mission to discover who I really am, including all the layers of unspoken desire locked inside.

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My Kind of Feminism

One of my earliest memories associated with feminism was a TV commercial that admonished parents to not buy their daughters tea sets but to buy them chemistry sets instead. It was an attempt at shaking up the status quo, to introduce science to little girls who otherwise wouldn’t have thought to ask for it because it had never been modeled for them, and to broaden the career horizons of many young women. That commercial infuriated my mother.

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Silence Says Something

I am terribly ill-equipped to say the right thing when it comes to racial tensions, racial inequality, and racially-motivated killings in the United States. Anything I say will come up short and (as an introvert who takes quite some time to formulate words) too late for the moment it’s needed. So I’ve often opted for silent, private grieving. But silence, although comforting to introverts like me, can be experienced painfully by others.

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For the Common Good

One of the few things I remember from my one semester as a Secondary Education major in college was a discussion about the reasons we force kids to go to school. After all, it wasn’t always so. A few hundred years ago, there was no law mandating children be in schools. At some point, however, it was deemed good, not only for the children themselves but for society at large, to educate its young citizens and to help them grow up into responsible, contributing members of society. Educating our kids is for their good and for the common good.

The idea of the common good comes from the village mentality of “we’re all in this together,” rather than the individualistic mentality of “every man or woman for themselves.” It’s the idea that your well-being is essential to my well-being, and visa versa. It’s the idea that the health and happiness of me and mine is not more important than the health and happiness of you and yours, and visa versa. It’s the idea that if I contribute to your ability to thrive, you will contribute to mine.

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