The constant excess and misuse of our resources can dull our sense of the difference between real and extraneous needs. We come to value things for the short term, to think only of enjoyment and convenience, and fail to take a broader perspective. We grow out of touch with the basic values of life, and we end up forgetting the many others who never have enough.
If we were close enough to truly feel another’s needs, every one of us would give help. But when our values are clouded, when we are insulated by a cushion of material comfort, it is hard to perceive, much less respond to, the needs and difficulties of others.
When we recognize what our wasteful habits do to our lives, to our work, to our relationships, we can come to know our real needs more clearly. We stop responding so readily to our superficial desires and are able to concentrate our energies on things that are truly meaningful to us, the things that make our lives worth living.