I once heard a story about this guy standing on a street corner, playing some kind of classical piece on his transverse flute, when a suit suddenly comes up to him and says: Why don’t you do something with your life, man! You can’t hang around here forever playing that flute – what if we were all standing on corners playing our old instruments – what do you think the world would look like?
The guy lowered his flute, looked at the suit and replied with a smile: I beg your pardon, sir! But what do you do? Eh… I’m a banker, the man said being a bit thrown off by the musicians politeness. Well, the street musician said, what would the world look like then if we were all bankers?
Even though it sounds like a typical cock and bull story I heard this story told straight from the horse’s mouth a long time ago. Whatever!
The punch line is of course that the world needs all kinds of people, jobs and activities in order to function. We can’t all be painters or actors and there would probably be a catastrophe if we where all identical and only did one thing. Just imagine if we were all farmers and only grew potatoes? Or if we were all car salesmen, clerks, or masons? It just wouldn’t work out, would it?
This understanding is well put in the famous phrase, “It takes all kinds!” which I myself have quoted a number of times, believing it originates from a saying of the legendary English Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, not knowing until now that it probably had nothing to do with him.
The quote actually comes from the Spanish phrase ”de todo ha de haber en el mundo” (literally, “There must be of all [types] in the world”), and can be found in Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, Volume 2, Chapter VI which was written in 1615. And ever since it has become a well-used saying and a reflection of the overall importance and need for diversity. The world would not exist, as we know it, if we were all alike.