There is a quote from the Star Trek science fiction franchise that has been repeated often throughout the various television series and movies, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” The phrase was first spoken by Leonard Nimoy’s character of Spock in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” as he tries to reassure his Admiral Kirk about a command decision.
It might be from a fictional source, but the sentiment carries a great deal of merit, especially in today’s self-gratification-focused society. The concept is based on a logical determination wherein decisions are made to favor the needs of a large population over just a few individuals or even a single person.
Much of the time decisions are made from a very personal, emotional point of view. And there are people out there who simply live in their own little reality, completely oblivious to how their own behavior affects others, so logical thinking just isn’t within their comprehension. But there are three areas where people can make a difference in affecting the lives of far more than themselves and the few who might immediately benefit from a single decision.
First, the needs of the many should be the primary concern of government officials — always. At the state and federal levels, members of legislature seem far less concerned with helping their whole citizen constituency but rather filling their own coffers and lining the pockets of their big donors.
The local level seems to be more about ego, people who want to have their name on everything and be the big fish in the small pond. If those who are sent to represent “the people” would actually do that for a change, the country would be in a far better state.
In business, the idea is to make a buck and show a profit, and those aren’t bad things because they mean jobs and a growing economy. But when business benefits from bad practice, like unregulated pollution or any other activity that could cause harm either physically or economically to an outside population.
Commerce can be community-minded and still make money, the two needn’t be mutually exclusive. Everyone will benefit when a business focuses on the needs of the many, instead of the needs of the stockholder or management chasing the next bonus, whatever the cost.
Individually, each person can make a difference by just taking a moment to consider the consequences of every decision. When people consider the larger picture and understand how their choices affect those around them, the outcome can be far more appealing to everyone affected.
The first thing that comes to mind is intoxicated or distracted driving. Waiting to send that next text or check Twitter, calling a cab or Uber after a particularly “loaded” holiday bash could literally save lives.
What hasn’t been revealed here is that, at some point, the needs of the few, or the one, outweigh the needs of the many. Not because of logic, but because we are human, and we make illogical, emotional decisions and sometimes that’s a good thing.
As a family caregiver for a special needs child or an elderly parent, for example, you might need to adjust your day-to-day activity to accommodate your charge. One person, who requires that the world adjusts to them sometimes. And no one is perfect. But, most people will put the needs of that individual first, weighing how everyday decisions affect everyone involved.
Sadly, it is impossible to change some people and altering the “me” mindset of a culture could very well take generations. Plus, there will always be power-hungry politicians, self-absorbed celebrities, and that one neighbor who continually throws her dog droppings over the fence into the next yard.
In the end, the problem is all about people: illogical, unpredictable, impulsive, self-driven people. It would be great, though, if we, as a society, could start thinking in a more logical manner, something incredibly unlikely given the current state of entitlement and gluttony that has overrun America. Maybe with a little effort on the part of each individual, everyone might eventually, Live Long, and Prosper. See what I did there?
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer in Greene County. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communication, Ltd. More at www.deerinheadlines.com