A Good Home, Changing the world, Types of People

Two Types of People


We were at a funeral. A speaker praised the departed effusively, as people do at funerals. Then he said:

“There are only two types of people in the world — the givers and the takers.  ——– was a giver.”

It was one of those times when — but for respect for the departed and the occasion itself — I would likely have stood up and said:

“No! She was a mixture of both! As are most of us human beings!”


Blog Photo - Shadow

Then there’s that old belief that I myself once held sacred:

“Some people change the world, and others hold it together.”

That two-kinds-of-people-fallacy again.

In fact, many of us take turns changing the world and holding it together. Some even change the world and hold it together at the same time. 

I didn’t realize that, of course. I was a rebel who grew up to become a “change-leader” — respected and celebrated for it. Meanwhile, I saw my mother as one of those stable, always-there people who held the world together. 

Blog Photo - Lamp

It took me decades to realize that my mother, in her quiet, loving way, was both changing the world around her and holding it together at the same time. Ask any of the people in her community whose lives she helped to change, or the people who were strengthened by her stability, fortitude, faith. My mother was both a rock and a change-leader.

Of course, there are no awards for quietly holding the world together — it’s not a glamorous achievement. And not all change leaders receive prestigious awards or are lauded in the news. Many work quietly: one person, one action, one place at a time.



Blog Photo - Lamp2

Easy answers can be such a comfort. But with age, I’ve also learned this: people are not always easily defined. 

So maybe there are two types of people in the world after all:

Those who think there are only two types of people in the world and those who know better.

Hah! Hoist with my own petard.

89 thoughts on “Two Types of People”

  1. A bit out of context but this immediately came to mind; The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away Job 1:20-22 So if the Lord is both a giver and a taker, we should be happy to be both, too.

    1. You’re right, jane. We are a multi-layered species. (Though there are days I think that if you dig beneath my surface you’ll just find more surface…. tee hee)

  2. That has really made me think. I come from quiet steady people who will never be known for anything, but I do believe that they quietly held the world together bringing along more people like them. I’m glad you pointed that out and it does take all kinds.

  3. Good post. So true! We are all givers and takers. I think people take comfort in easy descriptions. Complexity usually sets uneasily. And modest virtues such as steadiness or decency are not always given their due.

  4. I love that the photos illustrate your point. Very creative.
    I believe there should be balance in all things. If a giver never takes, they will exhaust themselves and they will be denying someone the joy of giving to them.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Your mother in her constancy and firmness in her path has certainly told you the right way to go forward. I could say more from my professional experience but it is already so far away. There is a French proverb that says: do well what you have to do.

      1. Translation; votre mère par la constance et la fermeté de son cheminement vous a certainement montré la bonne façon d’aller de l’ avant.
        Je pourrais en dire plus en m’ inspirant de mon expérience professionnelle ,mais c’ est déjà si loin! Il existe un proverbe français qui dit: ” fais bien ce que tu as à faire ” !
        Amitié ❤

      1. you are welcome – it’s a great site in general (although my ‘to be read’ list does not thank me for it!!) 🙂

  6. A lovely thought provoking piece Cynthia. I agree that most people are a mix, but some people are especially good at giving, and it may be the reason we remember them for their deeds more than others.

  7. You are right people are complex and it is insulting to say anyone is a ‘type’. Having said this, we all have mental compartments in our heads where we like to file people away. My filing system has two headings. One is ‘Has a sense of humour’ and you are kept in there and that is why I like you. The other compartment is: ‘No Sense of Humour, avoid’.
    As for Givers and Takers, most of us are a mixture.

    1. Coming from such a creative person, that comment means a lot, Amy! Thank you. When I used to make TV programs, I’d try to sneak in a few sequences that added nuance and texture without being too obvious. Amazing — it feels like a whole other life.

  8. I love this post, Cynthia! Haven’t been on WordPress for ages and just found your kind “hello” from long ago, so wanted to come visit and see what you’ve been up to. I’ll check back soon, and all good things to you and your family!

      1. And you have a new book out! I’m trying to download Kindle onto my new Mac to read it straight away. Still here in my little Hermitage, trying to bash self into shape to go hiking the Le Puy in France at the end of May. Hopefully their train strike will be done by then. Are you and your family well?

      2. Oh Beth! That’s so lovely of you to do that. I’m glad to hear you are still in your Hermitage, and still hitting the trails. Do you recall that you were supposed to walk some of the camino for me? (smile) Please think of me when you hike in France, since my own days of hikes and long walks are over. And I hope their strike will be over soon. They were on strike the last time I was there.

      3. Of COURSE I remember saying that, Cynthia! I walked a dedicated day for you and also one for Martha Kennedy, another blogger that I’m so fond of – who also has some mobility limitations. I would be honored to walk in France for you and will think of you often. I’ll be hiking the Massif Central from Aumont-Aubrac to Cahors at least. Maybe send a little prayer between May 30 and early July – and since you’re a French-speaker, maybe one in French?:0))! I’m thinking it might be my farewell trip to France, as travel has become so arduous and uncertain:0((. Thank you – I hope they finish up this strike soon too!

  9. That either-or, one-or-the-other, false dichotomy thinking gets used, and mis-used, so commonly, and it just seems to create divisions instead of helping us see our common ground. Your message needs to be repeated frequently and loudly!

  10. A good lesson here! We do love to categorize and pigeonhole, don’t we? An important reminder to not be lazy thinkers and keep our eyes and minds open. Cheers!

  11. The trouble with reading a post late is that everything worth saying has already been said by your followers and said so much better than I ever could do. I found your insightful post very interesting and it will give me much to think about over the next few days. I have enjoyed reading all the comments made and your replies too.

  12. I like this a lot. With the career I’m in I like to think I’m a giver , trying to change the world through one person at a time. On the flipside I’m also a taker -more like a sponge soaking up whatever knowledge I can get freely from someone else. Then there’s the times I don’t want to be anything. Does that sound strange to anyone? Sometimes I get burned out, get tired of trying, get tired of reasoning, tired of waiting for someone to just “get it” or I simply don’t have anything to give in the moment because I’m exhausted to the point I don’t even want to accept anything from anyone.

    1. Thank you for your response. I hear you. You’re in a giving role. Good that you can take sometimes, though I also understand burnout. And Karen Bingham’s comment mentions the need for those who give too much to allow others to give to THEM, which in itself becomes a gift to the frequent giver.

      1. Awesome and your welcome Cynthia. The most FAB thing about our blogs is the wisdom different people bring to them.

  13. I couldn’t agree with you more. There may be a sliver at each end of the spectrum, but 99-44/100% of the rest is grey! And we humans, with all our complexity, are right in there. Cheers! Jeanne

  14. The New England duality that I tend toward is “Do-ers, and Coasters”. But, you are correct that their are many points in between these two extremes. And, usually what you “are” is a matter of perspective. Most people probably believe they are “Do-ers” and other people are “Coasters”. But, what one might be “Do-ing” defines the action. Obvioulsy, someoe who gets up and acts is a Do-er. But, is someone who contemplates or deliberates a Do-er? Is someone who calls or attends meetings, at which Do-ing is discussed, a Do-er? Is someone who conducts research to promote actions, whether of that person or someone else, a Do-er? I someone who instructs, directs, or commands someone else to act, a Do-er? Enough rambling, got to get up and do something….Oscar

    1. The more I read, the bigger my smile became, till I was laughing out loud, Oscar. Your comment reminded me of philosophy class. All I can say in reply is, “I kinda think, therefore I kinda am.”

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