Vol.XII No.V Pg.1
July 1975

Big Little People

Robert F. Turner

Some years back I read an uninspired proverb, and thought it very smart indeed. It said, Big people talk about ideas, mediocre people talk about things, and little people talk about people. The idea was used as a basis for an early article.

A search for the why rather than a preoccupation with who or what is an indication of objectivity. It marks an effort to discover and apply sound principles by which things may be put in proper perspective, and people benefited. Yes, concern with ideas is a characteristic of great people. And yes, it may be contrasted with the narrowness of little people who are self-centered, and see no farther than the end of their nose. Rereading my original article (V.2, N.7) it seems no major changes are required.

But there were important things left unsaid. As years and experience increase — hopefully tempered by accumulated evidence if not by wisdom — it seems that the original appraisal of the proverb was one-sided. There is nothing little in being concerned about people. In fact, one may contrast the head-in-the-sky idealist with the warm personal concern of a people-lover, and Ill vote for the later. Idealism that is not put into practice becomes a cold meaningless exercise. Nothing big about that.

Some of the biggest people I have known were somewhat lost in abstract conversations. They had never learned to philosophize about their neighbors. But they felt for them, and translated that feeling into concrete action on a people-to-people level. Jas. 1:27 is directed to individuals, and was never intended as a money-raising slogan for institutions.

As people become votes to politicians, cases to social workers, bodies to physicians and maybe numbers and contributors to churches — we have had it. It is very possible that the preservation of society may one day balance precariously in the mind of a button-pusher who must decide between ideologies, material possessions, and people. Let us hope and pray that he will be a little person who cares for one of the least of these (Matt. 25:40, 45).