Two Men


There are 7,650,000,000 people on the planet and approximately half of them are men. This brief note is about two of those nearly four billion males.

One man was born of a Syrian family. A family that moved from Syria, to the Philippines and eventually to the United States. He became a pharmacist after attending the University of Texas. He couldn’t afford text books, so he did the homework of other students in order to be able to read class assignments.

This man spoke five languages fluently. He, along with his sister and brother-in-law ran a small pharmacy in downtown San Antonio, Texas for more than forty-five years. He worked seven days a week to provide for his family and for the education of his two daughters. He was always soft spoken, polite to everyone and appreciative of the smallest things in his life. I once heard him say over and over how comfortable a pair of inexpensive shoes felt. We knew it wasn’t their comfort that made him happy, it was because his one of his daughters had given them to him.

That daughter tells a story that occurred when she was young. A man of Asian decent came into the pharmacy and after he left, the daughter asked her father “Who was that Chinese man?” In a kind manner, her father responded, “He is not Chinese, he’s Japanese. Never out of ignorance step on another man’s neck to make yourself look taller.” It was not a scolding, it was a lesson being taught by a kind man to his young daughter. She has never forgotten that lesson.

Family, kindness, understanding, acceptance, contentment and gentleness marked that man’s life. I knew him for twenty years and I never once heard him say a negative word about another human being. Not once.

Then there is a second man. A man I’ve never personally met, a man I’ve only seen and heard on TV or read about. This man has every trapping and advantage any human could ever imagine. Power, wealth, possessions and notoriety. His name is known in every country in the world.

And yet, with all that I’ve described, he appears to be endlessly unhappy. Rather than kindness and acceptance, he speaks of others with disdain and villainy. Rather than be content with his degree of wealth, it seems that there is never enough of anything in his life. Not enough money. Not enough adoration. Not enough power. Not enough praise. Not enough credit. Never enough.

The first man I’ve written about pushed everything that was good within him, outwards. He gave everything he had to others and never expected anything in return. The second man takes until there is nothing left, and then demands more. Loyalty is a one way street and it points inward. Blame is always directed away, and credit is always taken in. The first man I’ve described was always easy with a smile, easy with a compliment and generous to a fault. The second man seems to wear a scowl as a mask, compliments are given with a string of attachments and everything in life is subject to winning and to others losing.

I know I’m far more blessed to have known the first man.

“Unless generosity of spirit prevails among men, there can never be

upon earth an ideal life.” Orison Sweet Marden

Go well, David