While it is difficult to generalize about human beings and human behavior to the point of forming rules, it is sometimes possible. One rule that seems to apply universally is that there are three types of people. There are those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. If you think about it, everyone falls mainly into one of these three categories. The first group includes those who make history. Some become historical figures, household names.
Others work quietly behind the scenes, shaping the events that define the times in which they live. Whether they are politicians, inventors, captains of industry and technology, entertainment and sports heroes, or social activists, these people make headlines and/or change the world. The majority of them will find their ways into history books of the future. The second group includes most of us. We watch the news; we don’t make it. We sit on our sofas and root for our favorite celebrities as they walk the red carpet.
We jump up from our sofas to cheer as our favorite quarterback makes the winning touchdown. We send our young people to fight in battles chosen by our elected officials and fought in places we can barely find in geography books. We buy and use the everyday and cutting-edge products and services invented by others, thereby making already rich corporations even richer. We do what we can just to get by and pay our bills, as the events of history flow around us like a river. The third group is, thankfully, not the majority, but it is still frighteningly large.
These folks would rather watch Jerry Springer, demolition derbies, and professional wrestling than anything on the Discovery Channel or History Channel, let alone PBS. Their idea of a newsworthy story is a headline from the National Enquirer about a child born of a woman and a sasquatch, or about a statue of Elvis found on Mars. They seem to consider various brands of beer a food group. They complain bitterly about the injustices all around them, but have never seen the inside of a voting booth.
Some of them, driven by their sense of powerlessness, become outlaws who are, apparently, truly surprised when they get caught in the beam of a helicopter searchlight and taken off the street. As shown, most people can be grouped into one of three categories. There are the movers and shakers, the history makers. Next, there are the vicarious spectators, professional consumers and armchair quarterbacks. Finally, there are the ignorant, the truly clueless. We should probably all take a moment to consider to which group we belong, and whether or not we wish to stay there.