Altar Call - Opelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton
July 30, 2000

People who need people are the most fortunate people in the world

There is a popular song which has this memorable phrase in it: "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world." There is a lot of truth worth thinking about in that sentence.

Actually all people need people. But some people pretend not to need others. They can walk past you with a nod and a cheery word and you realize they did not need you - at least at that moment. We can give them a break and suppose that they were in a big hurry to do something important. Perhaps there was a good reason why they did not give you the time of day. There is no need to get on your high horse and criticize them either. We are all guilty of brushing past people when we have something else on our mind. So there is no need for the pot to call the kettle black.

Then I suppose there are some people who, having taken offense at something we said or did, choose to ignore us intentionally. It is their way of saying, "You are no longer worthy of my respect and attention, you sorry so and so; now stay out of my life!" That can happen without our even knowing why the other party is offended. Such behavior causes most of us to become defensive. We are not guilty. They simply misunderstood what we said or did. That makes the break in our relationship their fault, not ours. In this defensive stance we can take the attitude, "If you don't want to be friends with me, then fine. I can get along fine without you too." That is the way some friendships come to an end. But sometimes friendships can be saved if one party is willing to eat a little humble pie and say to the other, "I regret what has happened between us and I want to apologize for whatever I may have done to offend you. Your friendship is important to me, and I want very much for us to become good friends again."

That attitude, however, is not possible in a person who feels no genuine need of people. Such a person actually needs other people but, having been hurt many times, refuses to admit the need of anyone else. In that frame of mind one may become quite caustic and bitter, and apologies are strongly repressed. The person who is hurt is apt to feel that it is the other person who owes him an apology.

Go back to the phrase in the song: "the luckiest people in the world." I know what the songwriter meant, but healthy friendships are actually not the result of "luck." The word "fortunate" says it much better. An even better choice might be "blessed." So we come nearer the truth when we say, "People who need people are the most fortunate (or blessed) people in the world."

The key is to understand our need of others and to be willing to admit it. Why is it so hard for some of us to admit we need people? Pride, I suppose, and our stubborn reluctance to let others know that we need their acceptance, friendship, and love.

A richer, healthier life is available to us when we are willing to swallow our silly pride and let other people know we need them. The truth is, people, all people, need people, and the sooner we freely admit it, the sooner life is worth living.

So, risk it. Pick out a person who seems to ignore you. If that is a person whose friendship you feel a need for, walk up and say, "I would like for us to be friends. If you have time for a cup of coffee, I'm buying. What do you say?"

"But what if I am rebuffed?" you ask. Look at it this way: to be rejected by another person will not diminish your worth one molecule! And there is no shame in offering your valuable friendship to another person.

On the other hand, your admission of need might break the ice and allow a healthy friendship to develop. It's worth a try since we only go around once. Go for it! There is a good chance you will be blessed.