As Americans we are pretty spoiled. Things we see as simple pleasures are great luxuries to many in the world. But what really constitutes a necessity and what is just a thing that for now, we can do without and how do we tell the difference?

Every now and then we have misunderstandings in our benevolence ministry on what is a necessity and what is simply a luxury. One woman asked that we pay her cable bill. When we explain that a cable bill is not a necessity, she begins to get angry. Frustrated she asks us what her kids are supposed to do all day without cable? I’m not faulting her, it’s her perspective for where she is at right now. I wonder what she would tell a Haitian mother whose country has only been able to remove 2% of the rubble from a earthquake long since past?

Still another woman who is getting back on her feet and explains to us that she has nothing but a few items of clothing and list her number one need as a television.

We wade through the requests and almost everyone who fills out a form is helped but it is sometimes sad when I see that these people need much more than a TV. I am praying about how to best help our community. The single mom who needs school clothes for her kids is easy to help. The man who needs a suit to go to a job interview is a simple fix. Only what do we do with those who can’t pinpoint their need or who are misdirected in their need?

I had to laugh when a homeless man came in to get some clothes and water and then asked for a microwave. His reasoning? “Well, one day I’ll get on my feet and I’ll need it.”

Today I am sitting here wondering if the reason we are struggling with our economy is that we didn’t understand necessities? I wonder if we will get back to basics and will that be a good thing for America?