Two Types of People In This World
By Andy Pope
“There are two kinds of people in this world.”
How often have you heard someone say this? Me, I’ve heard it many times. The interesting thing is that it doesn’t always refer to the same two kinds of people.
An ex-girlfriend once said, “There are two kinds of people in this world – those who are happy when something good happens to someone, and those who jealous when something good happens to someone.”
A now-famous meme declares, “There are two kinds of people in this world – the givers and the takers. The takers eat better, but the givers sleep better.”
I’m happy to have heard Paul Ryan rethink his earlier division of humanity when he said, “There was a time that I would talk about a difference between “makers” and “takers” in our country, referring to people who accepted government benefits. But as I spent more time listening, and really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized something. I realized that I was wrong.”
On May 1 of this year, photographer Kat Barnett said, in reference to the mask controversy, “There are two types of people: those who believe in doing what’s best for everyone even if it means personal sacrifice, and those who see their own inconvenience as unacceptable, no matter what.”
I myself once quipped, “There are two types of people in this world: those who are good at feeling guilty, and those who are good at making them feel that way.”
But let’s move toward the more spiritual and universal here. In a curious little book called “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell“, William Blake wrote, “There are two classes of men who walk the face of this earth. Any attempt to unite them will lead to the end of humanity.”
If I interpret Blake’s obscure words correctly, he was referring to those who are hell-bound and those who are headed for heaven — (though the book challenges the notion that heaven is the preferred destination.) In any case, far be it for any of us divisive sorts to assume we can unite humanity as one.
“And besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that even those who wish cannot cross from here to you, nor can anyone cross from there to us.” – Luke 26:16
It’s starting to look bleak. Are there really two different kinds of people in this world? And never the twain shall meet?
Recently there appears to have been a reprieve in the tension caused by a widely divided America. Masks are coming off. More smiles are seen and shared. We are no longer seeing divisive tweets being posted daily by a man whom I and many others believe should be behind bars. There is a stronger chance now than there was a six months ago that we might yet unite this nation.
But who are the two kinds of people in today’s America? Who do we need to pull together? Who are the Democrats? Who are the Republicans? What kinds of people are drawn toward the philosophy of the Democratic party? What kinds of people are drawn to the G.O.P.?
My guess is along these lines:
“There are two kinds of people in this world: those who prefer safety over freedom, and those who prefer freedom over safety.”
These days, quite unlike 50 years ago, people gravitate toward the Republican party if they are drawn in by the love of freedom. People gravitate toward the Democratic party if they are moved by the need for safety. But what is the purpose of this division? Do people not see that there is no freedom that can possibly endure beyond the grave? Do people think that this limited world, full of unpredictable dangers, can possibly provide true safety?
In the end, freedom and safety are neither mutually exclusive, nor are they diametrically opposed. For here is a realm beyond the worldly, wherein lasting freedom and safety abound. For Jesus said: “If you make My Word your home, you will indeed be my disciples. You will learn the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31
That same Lord Jesus also said, “No one shall stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so will I be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Though those words were spoken to Joshua in the Old Testament, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews applies God’s words to all:
“For God has said: Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
There is eternal security for those who follow Christ. That security does not come from below, but from above. In that kind of perfect security, unlike the tenuous safety the world provides, one is perfectly free – forever. But to seek freedom at the expense of safety, or safety at the expense of freedom, is foolhardy. Since neither can be found in full on this earth, we settle for a balance between both.
In heaven we won’t have to worry. We’ll be truly safe and free.
So why on earth do we cling to divisiveness? What are we trying to prove? We are all children of the Most High God – or at the very least, He has endowed us all with that potential (John 1:12). So let us behave as His children while here on earth, and love one another, while the day is yet light.
Andy Pope is a freelance writer currently residing in Moscow, Idaho, where he is a member of Moscow First Presbyterian Church. His work on social justice has appeared in Classism Exposed in Boston, Berkeleyside in Berkeley, California, and also in the Bay Area newspaper Street Spirit, where his regular column, Homeless No More, encourages those making the transition from homelessness to housing. An accomplished pianist and lifelong musical theatre person, Andy is also the author of “Eden in Babylon”, a musical about youth homelessness in urban America.