Givers and Takers

I love it when certain folks sit back, puff on their symbolic (or real) cigar pensively, and utter something like “there are 2 types of people in this world.” Amusingly, this is largely a true observation, if not contrary to the intelligent human instinct to see an endless range of gradation when defining human personality qualities. We see a range of behaviors spanning a bell-shaped dispersal of qualities, but ultimately, the old wise man with the cigar is making a statement which is irrefutable. There are only 2 types of people in the world. There are people who display traits which fall on the left side of the equilibrium marker. And of course, there are just as many people residing on the right side of that same marker. Regardless of which side you land, the fact that you do land in one or the other insinuates that you are that. You are one or the other. Clearly. The rarest instances are actually those where we land squarely in the middle, in a zone of perfect equilibrium. I once took an online “right brain/left brain” test which purportedly told you which cerebral hemisphere predominated in guiding your thought processes and I scored a perfect “0” which in the case of this specific test meant an absolute blend of both hemispheres. But the important thing is that in all definable and observable traits of human behavior, we invariably fall into one camp or the other.

So humor me while I lean back in my throne, chomp of this tobacco stick, gaze seriously at the ceiling, exhale a stream of musty leafy smoke, and utter, “There are 2 types of people in this world. You got people who give and you got people who take.”

It’s this basic, 21st Century polarization that galvanizes much of society’s cultural and economic fragmentation. The Givers and the Takers must live side by side and in times of scarcity, the division grows fiercer, resentment stronger, and frustration more hopeless. Scarcity need not be solely economic. Scarcity of noble human traits such as honor, respect, conscientiousness, maturity, stoicism, also affects the Giver/Taker dynamic. The Giver/Taker dynamic is an essential building block of an era’s mores. It colors our values and ethics.

You are either a Giver or a Taker and of course it’s obvious that these 2 types span all ranges of extremes, but ultimately, even the most borderline of Givers still has as much right to call himself a Giver as the uncharacteristically selfless person who abides by a stringent set of ascetic and saintly principles of self-sacrifice. I believe most of us would prefer to be perceived as Givers but like all putatively favorable human qualities, we are ill-prepared to honestly self-appraise our possession of such.

For instance, I’m convinced I’m a Giver. My perceptions tell me that I contribute way more to society than vice versa. I’m a positive force in this messed up old world and hell yeah, I’m resentful of those who drain and decapitate the efficient functioning of this world we must share. The problem is that Takers seek the lowest level, they usurp the unused vacancy left by the overreaching Givers. This is known in the real world as “getting a free ride.” Takers perfect the garnishment and solicitation of free rides. It is writ in every little action they sneak through, this leeching and bothersome prodding they press against the limits of society’s economic checks and balances.