Re: "Good of the Community" [was email etiquette
From: Don Benson (
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2014 10:58:29 -0800 (PST)

Thanks for helping me come to realize, again, the challenge of using email to 
effectively communicate about complex topics.  In my experience, we best learn 
to understand and operationalize these distinctions (wants and needs) (I and 
we) as we work with them over time.  

For me the most important part of your message is the difference between “the 
Community” and “the Majority” when determining the “we”.  

The “I/we” distinction can be discovered across any boundary including roles, 
responsibilities, values, etc.
1.  one part of myself-one role/the whole of my self in my life,  (e.g., my 
role as a parent and my desire to provide my child with the best education/the 
reality that I am already working 2 jobs just to keep food on the table, and 
don’t have the time to be with her or ability to pay for tuition to a better 
2.  my individual want for a specific outcome as part of a community or 
team/the whole team dynamic and how they operate
3.  one subset of my values and the values of the whole group.  For example, 
how are the values a conscious part of our daily interpersonal processes, do we 
define them the same way, are we aware of when we are not behaving consistent 
with them, and do we care?

These three examples illustrate how boundaries between a particular “I” and 
various levels of “we” in a way that shows that it is a relational dynamic and 
sense of identity that is built over time, and not principally a decision 
dynamic (voting/majority/minority) that is exercised in the moment.

Regarding wants and needs, I find the distinction is seldom made in casual 
conversation and is powerful.  From my dictionary, (italics are mine) the 
distinction is clear:
1.  Want - have a desire (emotional?) to possess or do (something); wish for: I 
want an apple
2.  Need - require (rational?) because it is essential or very important: I 
need help now

Don Benson
Trillium Hollow, Portland OR 

Ubuntu - I am because we are.

On Feb 25, 2014, at 6:33 AM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]> 

> On Feb 24, 2014, at 12:30 PM, Don Benson <benson6451 [at]> wrote:
>> 1.  what I want; and
>> 2.  what we need.
> But the "we" is the majority. Who decides what is the "good of the 
> community"? Even if the community has a clearly defined aim statement, how to 
> achieve that aim will not always be so clear.
> The community doesn't exist except as individuals. There is no central 
> consciousness or conscience.
> "Wants" and "needs" are not so easy to define. What I view as a need, others 
> view as a want.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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