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!”
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.
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.
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.