« "Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes." | Main | "Always look on the bright side of life." »

"It's never the same five percent."

oneinacrowd.jpgSo, a person was taking an informal survey of people as to what percentage of the world's population are assholes. She would ask people wherever she went and she traveled a lot so she asked a lot of people, and the answer was invariably between 20 and 40 percent or so.

On her way to an interview at the NPR studios in New York she asked a cabbie what he thought.

"Five percent," he said.

She was floored. Five percent? Only five percent? No one had ever given her such a low figure. She asked the cabbie about this apparently low figure.

"Well," he said, "it's never the same five percent."

I have forgotten the name of the person who was doing this informal survey, but I have never forgotten the punchline. I love this quote because it keeps me in mind of the fact that it is not who we are, but what we do that defines us. And that can change with time, it's not fixed.

Assholedness, as it were, is not static. It's a moving target. And if that is true of less desirable behavior, maybe it is true of our better angels too.

40 for 40, #23


I think the 5 percent is the static count, personally, and the 20 or 30 percent is contextual.

This also reminds me of the Jane's Addiction song:

The gangs and the government are no different
That make me 1%

Post a comment