There are 10 kinds of people; ….

….those who understand binary and those who don’t. A little computer geek humor there; sorry. But even though I know that 10 is two in binary, it always means ten to me when I first see it and until I put on my binary thinking cap. But no matter how you represent two, whether 2 or 10, don’t you find those divisions of the world into two groups sometimes interesting, even insightful. Of course, we’ve all grown up with some of them, such as givers and takers, or leaders and followers. (Actually though I don’t quite agree with that last one. I think that is a four way division: leaders, followers, hermits, and assassins.) But getting back to the two-ways; one I like is a humorous play on words, “There are two kinds of people: those who want to do a good job and those who want to get a good job.”

But seriously now, in sharing one of my favorite quotes I began to notice, to my surprise, that people reacted to it in two ways. It surprised me, because I didn’t realize it was a dividing line; I thought there was only one way to understand it. The quote is from Jonas Salk, the developer of the polio vaccine. It is “The reward for a job well done is the opportunity to do more.” I was really left speechless once in quoting that to someone when he scoffed and said “Huumph, some reward.” I was speechless because it seems to me so fundamentally true. One simply is not called to positions of greater trust and responsibility, whether it is being called to be Secretary of State or, on a less grand scale, promoted to shift supervisor at a fast food restaurant where you’ve been washing dishes or flipping burgers, unless you have been faithfully fulfilling expectations right were you are and at the places you have been. Jesus makes a similar observation. Somewhere in Luke, he says something like “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.” There’s an implicit dichotomy there too, into those to whom much has been given and those less fortunate.

I’ve always felt like I was one of those to whom much was given, and I’ve been fortunate to have spent most of my life, in government service and in church work, among others who also saw themselves as having much and from whom much was expected. How about you, gentle reader. Has Dr. Salk’s observation been true in your life? Is there someone you know with whom that bit of life wisdom should be shared?

Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, 02-July-2013

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