What I Require From Life
This personal essay “What I Require From Life” has been written by a British-Indian Scientist John Burdon Sanderson Haldane. This essay was initially published in a newspaper named “The Daily Worker” in the year 1940. This essay has included various political and philosophical views related to the requirements of the people’s life. It has mainly focused on socialistic convictions demanding democratic activities in workplaces. This essay has presented various needs of working-class people who are living their lives in different circumstances working to survive properly. Here in this essay, the writer has used very simple and lucid language in his writing style to discuss his requirements and experiences in his life. His requirements in his life resemble the requirements of most of the working-class people of the world.
The writer starts with his opinions related to his acceptance of the concept of the world as it is. According to him, he must not require the impossible things in his life. He says that if he tries to imagine perfect beings in a perfect world, he shall do harm rather than good for others. According to the writer, he was born in a peaceful age. During his youth, he desired to live his life peacefully but due to the outbreak of devastating World War 1st during 1914, he involved himself in his heroic age. The devastating World War 1st changed his concept of living peacefully. In that critical situation, in which he was living, he desired to make his time best through his basic needs as food, water, clothes and shelter. Here in this essay, the writer has talked about four general human needs which are quite important. These four general needs which the writer and others require are as follows:
- Work: The writer requires the work with a decent salary which is very much important for all. He thinks himself fortunate to choose his desirable work in a large extent. He says that apart from his scientific work, he can easily be a war correspondent, or write children’s stories, or make political speeches.
- Freedom: Next, the writer requires freedom in his work. Freedom is so essential for all. The writer prefers the freedom of speech the most. He wants to say and write about various poisonous aspects but the law of libel prevents him from doing so.
- Good health: Next, the writer requires fit health to work in his life. Good health enables people to get every essential in their life. Good health provides joy and success in life.
- Friendship: Next, the writer requires friendship of his colleagues and comrades. He prefers equality in the society where criticism can be done freely. His friendship must be away from the concept of obey and order without criticism. The friendship should be done with the people of equal standard.
Besides all these basic needs, the writer demands various things in his life. He demands adventure in his life though there is risk in the adventure. According to him the satisfaction of adventure is something much more solid than a thrill. He desires to have his own room with some books, a motor car, daily bath, a beach or a river within easy reach. He desires all these things but not demands.
The writer thinks himself lucky to enjoy his essential requirements but his enjoyments seem useless if his friends don’t find happiness in these requirements. He wants to see healthy people on the planet at work. All the workers at work must find fruits according to their capacities. They should work hard for their profits as well as their friends’ well- being but not for the profits of others.
The writer wishes to see the workers controlling their condition of work. As a socialist, he wants to see a condition where workers play their vital roles and control the industry. He wants to see the end of class subjection and sex subjection. The need for equality among people is essential to achieve fraternity. There should be an economic revolution to eradicate class subjection and sex subjection.
The writer prefers to die happily to see capitalism overthrown and the workers in power throughout most of Europe. He wants to see the end of fascism due to which the First World War broke out and the peace broke down. The writer wishes to see the spread of education and the application of scientific methods in all branches of life. Finally, he wishes to die if he can achieve only two conditions of Aristotle’s death.
- He wants to see his friends happy with their requirements.
- He wants to see healthy people at work in the entire world.
- He wants to see all the workers working for their and their friends’ profits but not for others’ profits.
- He wants to see all the workers controlling the industry.
- He wants to see the end of class subjection and sex subjection.
- He wants to see equality among people for fraternity.
- He wants to see an economic revolution to end class subjection and sex subjection.
- He wants to see all the workers in powers.
- He wants to see the end of fascism.
- He wants to see education and scientific methods in all branches of life.
Understanding the text
- How does the writer distinguish between a peaceful age and a heroic age?
The writer distinguishes between a peaceful age and a heroic age by making a comparison between two different ages. He refers to the time of his birth as a peaceful age whereas his youth age as a heroic age. During his youth age (aged 22), the first world war broke out. He desired to live his peaceful age but engaged himself in a heroic age of war.
- Why does the writer want more freedom of speech than most people?
The writer wants more freedom of speech than most people because he wants to say and write freely about those people and institutions who are very poisonous. He wants to write against all those capitalists who have brought disorder in every sector. He wants to write about them what he thinks about them.
- According to the writer, what are the four general human needs?
According to the writer, the four human needs are as follows:
- Freedom of speech
- What is the difference between desire and demand according to the writer?
According to the writer, the difference between desire and demand is that desire is the mere wish of a person to have a particular commodity in his/her life whereas demand is a desire backed by the ability and willingness to pay for a particular commodity. Here, the writer desires various things but not demands. But, he can bear up all his desires happily.
- Why does the writer demand security?
The writer demands security because the security of life is quite an important aspect than other aspects. The security of life is the primary aspect whereas other requirements are secondary. During the time of critical war, the writer demands the security of life first. If life is secured, anything can be possible.
Reference to the context
Explain the following lines with reference to the context:
- “The satisfaction of adventure is something much more solid than a thrill.”
Here in this line, the writer wants to say us about the satisfaction of adventurous tasks. According to him, the adventurous tasks are related to thrill. Apart from the thrill, adventurous tasks provide us with extreme satisfaction. Among thrill and satisfaction, the satisfaction which we get through an adventurous task is something more solid than a thrill. The satisfaction of adventure is much more than the thrill of adventure.
- “I want the workers to see the fruit of their own work not in profits for others, but in their own and their friends’ well-being.”
Here in this line, as a sociologist, the writer wants to see a fine working condition for the workers. He desires to see all the workers at work with their and their people’s profit. According to the writer, all the workers must find fruits according to their capacities. They should work hard for their profits as well as their friends’ well -being but not for the profits of others or their owners.
- Why do you think the essayist has taken reference from the ancient philosophers?
I think the essayist has taken reference from the ancient philosophers because he wants to support his ideas and provide us with clear ideas related to his paragraphs which he has presented.
- Discuss the essay in terms of its language, purpose, subject, point of view and mode of writing.
This essay “What I Require from Life” has been written by a British-Indian scientist J.B.S. Haldane. Here in this essay, the writer has used his simple and lucid language to put forward his ideas related to socialism. He has tried his best to present various requirements of people from their lives. Here, we find the writer demanding equality as well as democratic activities for all working-class people in workplaces. As a sociologist, his main purpose is to uplift the condition of working-class people. He wants to see equality for all the people in every sector. He has presented the major subject of life-related requirements where he has discussed various issues related to the needs, rights and classes of people. He has presented his opinions against capitalism that has created unemployment in larger scale. His point of view can be observed in the essay as a social critic. He has started his essay with his descriptive mode but later on, he has presented his political arguments to persuade his readers.
Reference beyond the text
- What do you require from your life to be happy and satisfied?
To be happy and satisfied, I require the following things from my life:
- Good health
- Good job
- Good friendship
- Security of life
- What is socialism? How is it different from capitalism?
Socialism is a system of social and economic equality in which there is no preference given to private property or ownership. It is different from capitalism because we cannot find economic equality in capitalism. Capitalism ignores peoples’ needs and does not promote equal opportunity as socialism.
- Write an essay about your dream house.
People in this world have different desires and demands. People prefer to live their life with all the facilities. Apart from various desires and demands, people prefer to build their fine house in their lives at first. In my opinion, the house is a very important part of our lives where we spend our entire lives. In my case, I would like to have a fine dream house in my life. I don’t prefer to have a big house. I just want a small one with different facilities. I would like to have a house with a drawing room with home theatre, a kitchen room with fine dining table, separate sleeping rooms for us, children and guests, a fine bathroom with hot shower bath, a small library with essential books, a small garden with different kinds of flowers, a beautiful terrace to view the sunrise and the sunset etc. I think most people desire to have a similar dream house which I prefer.