Among the things on which Left and Right, religious and secular, can agree is that one of the few real needs that human beings have is to be needed.
When we are not needed, life feels pointless.
The need to be needed is universal. The sexes may feel needed in different ways, but the depth of the need is the same.
Many women feel particularly alive when needed by their young children; many men feel worthy when needed by their family and/or their work. That is why most women navigate difficult emotional straits when their adult children leave home and assume independent lives; and why most men find it so crushing to lose their jobs — not necessarily because of the loss of income, but because of the loss of meaning that comes from no longer being needed.
Only when we are needed do we believe we have significance. Give a boy a special task — just about any task — and he blossoms. Give a girl a person — in fact, almost any living being — who depends on her, and she blossoms.
Of course, there are also myriad unhealthy ways of feeling needed. If an unwed teenage girl has a baby in order to feel needed, it is usually a bad thing for her, for the child, and for society. If a boy joins a gang to feel significant, it is bad for him and for society.
Though not consciously intended to, over time the political program of the Left destroys people’s ability to be needed, and therefore to be or feel significant.
As I regularly note, the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen. One can add: The bigger the government, the less significant the citizen — especially men. One well-known example is the way welfare robbed so many men of significance when women and their children came to depend financially on the state.
And it goes further than that. In order to feel significant, men not only need to have others depend on them, they also need to depend on themselves, on their own work and initiative. But that, too, is destroyed as the state gets bigger. Fewer and fewer people work for themselves (which leads among other things to the disappearance of that quintessentially American ideal, the risk-taking entrepreneur).