The World Is Divided

July 2, 2009

 by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.
In the spirit of interactivity, this little exercise is meant to get you to put on your thinking cap and dig down into your preferences and biases, innate tastes and pet peeves, true likes and true dislikes.
In these enlightened times, nobody much – or at least very few – believe in their heart of hearts and soul of souls that our world is divided into Men and Women, Young and Old, Purple and Green, or Microsoft and Apple.
Rather, we tend to see the global landscape in terms of what we feel is really, truly, deep-down-in-our-guts important to our own worldview, however skewed it may be.
For instance, my friend Georgia, whose delight is flowers and homegrown tomatoes, would surely say “The world is divided into Those Who Garden and The Non-Cultivating – and Uncultivated – Ones Who Don’t.” 
My brother-in-law, on the other hand, whose passion is Fantasy Baseball Leagues, might say, “The world is divided into Those Who Can Pick ‘Em and Non-Team Players.”
While my cousin the ferret fancier – Yes, really – probably thinks, “The world is divided into “Those Who Appreciate Clean, Cuddly, Adorable Little Creatures and Uncouth, Uninformed Ferret-Phobes.” 
Well, how about you?
At the end of a busy day, when you’re drifting off to LaLaLand, which of the myriad petty events and annoyances of the past few hours do you tend to obsess on, grinding your teeth and grumbling, “If only I had said or done that differently – or disemboweled Johnny or Janey So-and-So?”
In your opinion, The World is Divided Into:

Readers who appreciate strong interactivity might also enjoy reading the numerous responses to Ellen’s serious-humor story “Stilettos-Vultures” at:

Also already impressive is the Comments stream at her new series Baby Boomers-The Angriest Generation:

124 Responses to “The World Is Divided”

  1. Himanshu Chanda Says:

    Nice post Ellen. Yes, most of us are biased and wear lenses we are comfortable looking through at the World.

    At times, I believe World is divided into Those Who Achieve, Come What May and Those Who Do Not.

    • Bob Springborn Says:

      I believe the world is divided when we are out of spiritual alignment with ourselves and the force of the universe (God if you like).

      In our western world, we have been trained in our socialization process to view ourselves apart from this force (e.g. Adam and Eve and the banishment from Eden) and thus operate intellectually in pairs of opposites.

      When we transcend the pairs of opposites, we are in alignment and there is no separation. Transcending the transcendent through meditation or getting out of our egoistic states brings us into alignment and eliminates separatism.

    • Stephanie Says:

      Really, we are divided by how we perceive the world. If we would recognize our “sameness” and delight in the fact that folks have different ways of looking at things. . . how great that would be!

      Rose-colored lenses are not so bad. It’s the dark glasses that block out the light – not so good.

  2. Tony Says:

    I think not only is the world divided, but we as individuals are often a myriad of contradictions.

    The division I most often see, though, is between People Who Own Their Own Futures versus People Who Make Them Someone Else’s Responsibility.


    • Solange Says:

      I agree with Tony. This is how I mostly see the division also.

      Although I’m not where I want to be just yet, my final thoughts before I fall asleep at night relate to what I can do the following day for the future I want.

      I imagine people who do not take ownership of their future fall asleep to negative thoughts about the mundane state of their 9-5 and how they see no other way to live their lives. Of course, that’s not to say that the latter group can’t switch teams!

    • Sherrie Mathieson Says:

      You can subtext all this depending on people’s small, idiosyncratic, and self-involved visions of the world.

      But I believe also that there is a general Haves and Have Nots. Being a Have is not merely about having money, but also about having the intelligence, the will, the environment and the wherewithal to “do” and achieve a better quality of life. The Have Nots often instigate discontent, avarice, and war.

      The sad part is that if intelligence and clear thinking overrode sheer emotions, the Have-Nots might become Haves!

  3. Yvonne Says:

    I think it’s all about Dog People and Cat People. If you like both, you’re a contradiction. Or a contrarian. If you look like either, you’re in trouble…especially in the human world.

  4. Frank Betts Says:

    “Whilst part of what we perceive comes through our senses from the object before us, another part (and it may be the larger part) always comes out of our own mind.”– William James

    The World itself is not divided until we choose, consciously or unconsciously, to divide it, usually for self-serving reasons – e.g survival, procreation, fun.

    But the only division that really counts is Golfers versus Non-Golfers |:-)

  5. Kathy Bradway Says:

    Those Who Get It and Those Who Don’t.

    I am a designer who fell into senior living design. I never really plan on a direction but truly fall into new paths. But once I find myself on a path, I am totally and fully there.

    Senior living and hospice design needed me, and I suppose I needed this new venture also. It really does feel great to make a difference in an area where change is so badly needed.
    The world of senior living for the most part exists of outdated, stiff, tacky, uncomfortable, dreary and colorless design. It is as if somewhere someone started the rumor that once you are elderly, you lose all sense of taste and style and do not care about your surroundings.

    The work I have done is cutting-edge, full of fun, with lots of color and inspiration.

    • Myron Alexander Says:

      Those who are Introspective and Challenge Themselves versus Those who are Status Quo.

      I must agree with Ms. Bradway. I believe that in challenging times, we must be introspective and challenge ourselves, what we believe, why we believe it, as well as what we do.

      What we do for a living does not define who we are as individuals. I think we live in a culture that encourages us not to think about these things. Consequently, many of us live a life of “more of the same,” never challenging ourselves nor our assumptions.

    • Gabriele Says:

      From what you reveal, it looks like there is also the division between those who have the guts to change things and those who shrug their heads and do nothing.

      Every small effort gets the ball rolling, once it’s pushed on by others.
      I would love to see what you have done with rejuvenating design.

  6. Mike Says:

    Never get into bed and think “what if” or “could have been” or “if only.” That serves no purpose and only gets you off to sleep with a negative image in your mind.

    When I get into bed I say “I achieved that,” “I am achieving that,” “I am happy” and “Thank You.”

    My answer is: The world is divided into People Who Think They Can and Those Who Think They Can’t. Then there are the People Whose Glass Is Always Half Full and Those Who Have Glasses That Are Always Half Empty.

    I do have to say that during my life I have been ALL of these, but right now I believe my Glass Is Always Half Full.

    Thank you for making me think, Ellen. It is always better than just doing. A very tough question

  7. Tom Says:


    Thought-provoking post.

    “United we stand, divided we fall” a founding Idea of the USA. I do not think much can be improved upon this idea.

    Every time I see a poll [CNN, or other media] it makes me want to vomit.

    Poll says, “Young think this, old thinks that”, if you buy it, you are now subdivided and controllable. “The Rich think this, the poor that?”, “Protestants think this, Jews think that”, “Democrats …. Republicans, …”, “54% of Dummies think this, 2% of smart people think that” …

    Every time we let our selves be subdivided, we allow others to control our thinking and subsequently our lives.

    Perhaps the only improvement on the original quote would be “Think independently, Act Jointly”

    Tom Boyle

  8. Toni Farrington Says:


    I think it is between the “Cup Half Full” versus the “Cup Half Empty” lot. Either you maintain a happy and optimistic approach to everything you do whatever life throws at you. Or you are the pessimistic type always looking on the down side. Interestingly, these people don’t see themselves as pessimists. They maintain that they are realists. Have a great day!


    • Nick N. Says:

      I have to agree with Toni. It’s divided by the Naysayers and the Yeahsayers! I’m of the camp of Yeahsayers. Every night, I’m thinking of new markets where I can sell my product. Or I’m thinking of a new product or a new way of doing something. It’s an exciting time for opportunists.

      There is a new horizon out there ready to be explored. I say bring it on, I’m ready!

      If you think of life or your job like how you play sports, you’ll come out ahead! My 4 Ps of marketing… Planning, practice, preparation, performance!

  9. Andy Says:

    I like a lot of the replies, especially Tony’s regarding owning your future.

    I’d say the world is divided between those who Live their life with eyes open to the world and those that live without ever getting a clue.

  10. Tim Crockett Says:

    Interesting question and one that is not easily answered here in a few lines. Yes we all have biases, contradictions and a way of looking at the world, some of these even change as we grow in age and experience.

    That said isn’t this something that makes this world even this life of ours so interesting?!

    Great post keep them coming and keep us thinking!!


  11. Stan Cohen Says:

    Ellen, the world is definitely divided. There are spiritual and non, doers and non, takers and givers, men and women, rich and poor and on and on and on.

    The split I think about often are those who take responsibility for their own actions and those who don’t.


  12. Kellie Says:

    I’m enjoying reading the comments to this post, and a good one it is Ellen, even though your last paragraph led to a different path altogether.

    I’ve agreed with many who say it depends on your view point and for me it consistently comes down to the “I choose to” or the “I choose not to” people. Either you choose to forgive or you choose not to. Either you choose to move ahead or you choose not to, etc.

    Good job Ellen. I’d keep circulating this one if I were you.


  13. Aria Says:

    What I find to be most obvious in daily life – whether it is at work, in the grocery store, at an intersection, in community or as I travel abroad, – is people who are either more focused on themselves (getting ahead, getting through the intersection first, getting in front of you at the grocery store, making decisions at work based on what is best for them and not necessarily the organization or others (which may mean taking action or not stepping up), a focus on getting what they desire(new house, car, money – it is endless), and continuously strengthening their identity and self worth – being right, being better than anyone else)


    people who are focused on helping others (making the world a better place, going out of their way for people even though it may never be noticed, volunteering or choosing a career that society does not deem as worthy of a high salary but yet the work is of utmost importance(and recognizing that it is important work), standing up for others who need a voice (which usually takes some effort), making decisions that are best for the environment (which car to buy, what products are safer) etc.)

    Self or selflessness.

    However, there is a way to have a happy medium even in our challenging society to make money, pay for our health care, send the kids to school, be able to pay for gas and groceries etc. – the middle way – and many people do. Those people, from what I have seen and the people I know, tend to feel more fulfilled and happier too. And, many of these people made the changes somewhere along the way. Some people I know sacrificed a lot of time, family time, their time etc. to get ahead at work – worked a zillion hours, made a lot of money and still were not happy or…. especially recently, they lost their job – these type of realizations can prompt us to re-evaluate what is important to us and to take a deeper look at our life.

    It seems that people who are living more of a middle way type of life are more balanced too – work, family, spiritual, rest, helping others/community etc. And, they seem less stressed. Perhaps because their life is filled with meaning and they know they are making a difference, no matter how small it is, and their priorities are prioritized. Hopefully the world (all of us) is moving more in this direction. I think the recent economic downturn has a lot of us thinking about it anyway.

  14. Victor Says:

    My take is the world is divided into bloggers or readers. Good post keep it up.


    • ellenbrandtphd Says:


      I’ll become acquainted with your blog today! I didn’t realize we were neighbors at Word Press.


  15. Terry Says:

    In my opinion, The World is Divided Into: Those that believe the we live in a Friendly Universe and those that believe we live in a Hostile Universe. Albert Einstein said that this is “the most important decision we make.”

    I have been on both sides of this belief, so one can change their view at any time.

    How about you, right now? What do you believe?

  16. Sandy Graham Says:

    Dr. E has posted a very thought- provoking column today on the “The World is Divided”.

    I agree with her postulation that for most of us, we see things based on our personal preferences, biases, and likes-dislikes. I certainly fall into this classification.

    For me, I see things in two categories: Those That Get It and Those That Don’t. I feel that I am in the Those That Get It category with respect to how and what I see as the current deterioration of our country, our moral values, our defense of liberty and freedom, and our way of life.

    You see, I happen to believe strongly in the principles our Founding Fathers followed in the creation and establishment of the U.S. Constitution which formed our government structure and laid the basis for the pursuit of individual happiness.

    I get that freedom and liberty are God-given and that it is our responsibility to ensure their existence. I get that the pursuit of free enterprise, especially at the small business and small farm level, is the quintessential form of individual freedom and liberty.

    I get that when you provide individuals with the freedom to pursue their individual economic interests, great things emerge in the form of new technologies and solutions to economic and social issues, problems or needs.

    And I get that America is the last great hope of mankind and that we better not destroy it by being complacent and allow for the type of ‘social change’ that will remake our country into what our Founding Fathers worked so hard to prevent.

  17. Raad Says:

    Nice one Ellen :) and great replies from all as well.

    I would have to say, from my own experience, that the world seems divided between Those who Need to Divide Things Up and put them into neat categories and Those who Don’t. I will give you a personal example:

    I am of Arab cultural decent, a father born in Haifa, Palestine, and a mother half Iraqi and half Lebanese; Greek Orthodox Christian and Catholic born in Baghdad, raised in Kuwait, and never remember not speaking both English and Arabic at the same time and at home. . .

    And my experience has been that to many, that is too complex a mix to fit in a neat division or box or somehow conform with preset expectations.

    Don’t get me wrong. I have never felt any negative reaction because of it. It just has been an interesting experience seeing people react to it when I tell them the first time.

    I guess the bottom line is: As much as we want and need to simplify and divide the world into this or that, at the end, the only way to truly experience it at its fullest is to fully embrace its complexities and in fact be enriched by and relish in them.

  18. Grace Says:

    Is the world divided?

    Do the poles not function together?

    Isn’t the action of a tide a reaction to something greater than itself?

    I don’t beleive we act independently of one another, quite the contrary. Even if it seems that one is pulling one direction and the other pulling the other, there is a bigger picture that one must try to see.

    Should we not look for the meaning as a whole instead of looking for the symptom?

  19. Jim D. Says:

    Are we divided?

    In the scope of it all, we are divided until we are forced to become united. Unfortunately, it is usually in times of tragedy where you see everyone coming together with one universal purpose.

    Although there is a beautiful quality in us, the ability to come together, it is always unfortunate that it takes turmoil to bring us to that point.

    We have many issues in the U.S. today that require individuals to become aware, but they do not. Complacency is the enemy here that allows people to be categorized into different sections of belief.

    Unfortunately, in our current state, we are divided into very informed and completely uninformed or complacent.

    It is unfortunately the natural circle of society….from bondage to rebellion to freedom to complacency….and back to bondage??? Hope not.

    Pay attention to what our leaders do. Exercise choice to speak and be heard.

    • ellenbrandtphd Says:

      Wow! This is an intelligent and thoughtful, but extraordinarily serious bunch.

      Any comic relief?

  20. martha Says:

    That is an interesting question!

    Hmmm… It depends in which language I am thinking…

    So, the world surrounding a language determines many things.

    I guess my world is seen between people who speak and function anywhere in more than one language and the people who are monolingual.

    It is fun to live in more than one world!

  21. Brian F. Says:

    I contend that 25% to 40% of the old economy jobs and business models are in jeopardy of obsolescence.

    The World is divided into:

    #1 Those who think they can “hang on” to their jobs or old economy habits with little change in their behavior. For some this may be an act of denial.

    #2 Those who see and accept the notion that the new economy means lots of old losers and a few new winners. New economy members accept their personal retooling without a safety net as the new reality.

  22. Tom Says:

    Answering the Call for comic relief!

    …Three guys, of varying ethnicities, from varying religious affiliations, go into a bar, the first one says ….

    Sorry, couldn’t resist the Divided joke.

  23. Joe Says:

    The world is divided into THREE types of people:

    1) those who divide the world into two types of people,

    2) those who don’t, and

    3) those who can’t count

  24. Pam F. Says:

    It is hard to depict dichotomies when discussing human behavior. However, I would agree that people can be divided into animal lovers and non-animal lovers, with of course some overlap.

  25. David B. Says:

    The world is divided between people who keep moving on escalators and those who stand still (and block others).

    It’s also divided between those who move into the middle of an intersection while waiting to make a left turn (letting others make the green light as well) and those who don’t move into the intersection and leave everybody else waiting. Maybe those are the same folks!

  26. Lois G. Says:

    As I’m standing on line at Whole Foods, I am thinking that there are two kinds of people: Ones who are the center of the universe and don’t worry a fig about holding up the line, and those who usually go out of their way to “get out of the way”.

    The second group even tip the bag boy.

  27. Scott Says:

    Some people have all the answers, tried and true, and some are always looking for new and better answers.

    You can tell the first group, because they tell you what you can and cannot do. The second groups is amused and delighted when someone does something original.

  28. leslie Says:

    I see the world divided into Those Who Are Loved and Those Who Are Unloved: that can be read in many ways – rich/poor, famous/not famous/ young/aged , for example.

    But for me, deep down, it encompasses Cherished versus Spurned, be it parental, familial, or romantic.

  29. Will Says:

    Well, as much as I deplore those with opposing views in business, politics and religion, I guess I can thank my lucky stars that because of our right to free speech – and thought – we’ll never be subject to the likes of dictators like Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and other nasty people that mankind has produced.

    We should all remember that, especially here in the U.S. and other free democracies throughout the world, because the alternative is a living Hell on Earth. Just ask the North Koreans or Iraqui citizens.

  30. Mary Says:

    The world is divided into those who will have a vision as to what may be accomplished in life and those who merely stand on the sidelines and
    wait for others to come up with a plan.

    You will always find those indiviuals in business who will step outside the box and those that are content just to go with the flow.

    I would rather be in the former rather than the latter group.

  31. Bethany Says:

    When I really think what eats me alive while lying in bed, the answer is clear …

    The Problem Solvers and The Problem Makers

    The Problem Solvers approach a situation with intelligence, research and a clear head. They think about the consequences to every action, and key into best-practices.

    The Problem Makers panic. They randomly throw solutions up on a wall without thinking them through. They are so distraught about whatever problem is currently in front of them, they create another one shortly down the line.

    Thanks for sharing, Ellen. A fun post to think about!

  32. Adero Says:

    In education, we try to leave our biases at the door and teach theory and facts.

    I prepared a workshop to help women returning to school after divorce, loss of employment, childrearing, etc. get into the swing of things in the classroom.

    While we talked about a lot of things, one that seemed to mean the most to them was about the baggage we carry.

    I brought in a duffle bag and pulled out things like a large kitchen spoon representing my mom, the food service worker; a wrench for my dad, the mechanic; a picture of my daughters; and my own textbooks, as one hat I wore was as a student.

    I told the class that as much as we like to claim to be similar beings and unbiased in our classrooms, each of us brings our own baggage into the dialogue. Whether good or bad, whether we like the home team or the team we grew up rooting for in another state, our biases color the way we hear what is presented and the biases of the presenter are still seeping through in the presentation.

    While my baggage says I am a Mac person, I am as likely to be seen working on or working out problems with a PC as a Mac.

    I guess the world isn’t as divided as we would like to believe.


  33. Rich Hershenson Says:

    It could be Red Sox fans and Yankee fans.

    It could be the feminine/masculine yin/yang – and the secret is that each of us has all of it.

    So the world is divided between those who know it and can benefit by it, and those who don’t know it and fight it.

  34. Laurence H. Says:

    I believe that the world is divided – actually quite unequally – between those who DO and those who DON’T.

    The Doers, according to my Thesaurus, “accomplish, achieve, act, arrange, (are) responsible for, bring about, cause, close, complete, conclude, cook, create, determine, discharge, do (their) thing, effect, end, engage in, execute, finish, fix, fulfill, get ready, get with it, go for it, look after, make, make ready, move, operate, organize, perform, prepare, produce, pull off, see to, succeed, take care of business, take on, transact, undertake, wind up, work, and wrap up.”

    Those who DON’T “defer, destroy, fail, lose, miss, neglect, pass, put off, undo, abandon, nullify, relinquish, give up, not finish, aggravate, annoy, incite, irritate, and provoke.”

    In my experience, those who do start out early in life Doing continue to Do pretty much every day, no matter what.

    Those who Don’t Do, Don’t pretty much every day, even though there’s no reward for not doing. Worse, they “afflict, bother, crush, depress, encumber, hamper, handicap, hinder, impede, obligate, oppress, overload, overwhelm, weigh down, worry, bear down on, cumber, dump on, give it to, lade, make heavy, snow under, stick it to” those who Do.

  35. Bob Hirschman Says:

    The world is divided into:

    Those who think of everything in terms of dichotomies

    And Those who don’t

    [a variation of Joe’s above, and a plea for dimensional (and multidimensional) thinking]

  36. Mark Herbert Says:

    Hmm. I think the world is divided into Those Who Are Engaged and Those Who Are Merely Participants.

    The Engaged are silly enough to run for office, get involved with community organizations, write books, or otherwise say “We can make this better.”

    The Participants scurry about their lives, check their 401k balances frequently, and say “Someone should do something about . . . .!” (Fill in your response, like the economy, health care, Michael Jackson, etc).

  37. Maria Isbell Says:

    Oh, how I wish I only had to grapple with these divisions at the end of each day!

    I seem to find myself at a crossroads constantly, as I question why there seem to be so many perspectives that can make our daily lives such a challenge.

    For example, my day begins with trying to understand those who have obviously had their coffee versus those of us who have not! Can I have a minute, please! Then, we quickly move into those who don’t have any place to be in particular versus those of us who have a job and are late because we stopped for coffee. I think it’s easy to see how such diverse viewpoints could muddle any discussion.

    Such as, how can “the market” be so decisive and move in unison to destroy our remaining, pitiful little 401K’s when I’m dealing with those who have promptly and cheerfully returned my phone calls and those who will require an overtly obnoxious, sugary sweet call YET AGAIN to sell them something they so desperately need. I mean, surely these differences exist across all industries, do they not?

    We strive for consensus as a people while struggling with those who know how to quickly order the number four combo versus those who need to carefully read and ask for the “off the menu” specials at the drive though! At the DRIVE THROUGH for crying out loud! The voices in my head can’t even agree as to what we should do with these folks.

    Then there are those of us who have teenagers and those who still have a shred of dignity and sanity left. That in and of itself could be a blog. And, speaking of blogs, there are those of us who have so many witty ideas to blog about and no time to blog because our witty life is driving us incredibly crazy versus those of you who blog so calmly and intelligently with such ease. That could be explained I suppose by those who are on their meds and those of us who have abandoned all hope of ever finding our “happy place.”

    We look for love, companionship and understanding at home, but there are those of us who fix dinner and those of us who sit on the couch and complain loudly of hunger (who also by the way fit in the category of those who can’t figure out how to load the dishwasher—you know who you are).

    There are those of us who think one glass of wine is enough and those of us who would tell you to mind your own business since this makes
    Mommy happy.

    And here we are, at the end of the day—facing the question you originally posed. As I lay on my bed thinking of those who like soft mattresses versus those that complain the mattress is sagging (so why did you have the extra bowl of ice cream if it causes the mattress to sag more).

    It occurs to me that the only real difference I can see are those that are extremely grateful that each night as we close our eyes we can thank God above for coffee, cars, jobs, clients, french fries, teenagers, crazy lives, family dinners, a glass of wine and a soft bed and someone to share it with—and those I will pray will find those things and the blessings they bring.

    • ellenbrandtphd Says:


      A blog within a blog!

      I love it!

      Now we need to persuade someone to write another blog as a reply to YOUR blog, and we’ll have a blog within a blog within a blog.


    • Laura Says:


      I think we could be friends… and you seem truly blessed as are many of us, if we’d just stop to think about it. Even when times are really really bad, I thank God for the choices I have, the resources I have, and the family and friends I have, and I know that things could be A LOT worse.

      I don’t think this is long enough to be a blog… I’ll save my rants for my own blog!

  38. Maria Says:

    A blog cubed, so to speak. Would that make us squares?

  39. Simone H. Says:

    My late father-in-law used to say “One half of human beings is just there to annoy the other half.”

  40. Laura B. Says:

    Ellen: I never really thought that I saw the world as being divided, but now that you ask, I realize my biases and would say… the world is divided into:

    Those who can multi-task and those who can’t. I used to get SO frustrated with women who could only do one thing at once, only to now discover that single-tasking is a curse of middle-age.

    Those who are honest and those who aren’t. I always assume that people are honest and are telling the truth. As a result I’ve been burnt, even by those close to me, but I’ll never stop trusting people. Someone has to!

    Those who complain but are prepared to put in the work necessary to create change, and those who complain and complain and complain. I’m a person who, if I see something wrong, I try and fix it, or just shut up. Hence my book…

    Those who get along with others, and those who could care less. I avoid confrontation at all costs, but am still fairly quick to defend myself (another symptom of middle age I think). None the less I cannot stand it when people choose anger as the best first approach when dealing with others, rather than being nice.

  41. Ann Says:

    Folks who hear the music, folks who make the music, and folks who think music is a bunch of noise.

  42. Rebecca Says:

    In my opinion the world is divided into a lot of things: Men and Women, Haves and Have Nots, etc.

    When I go to bed at night, I try not to think about these things, because if I spend too much time on it, I am reminded that the world is divided into problems, many problems that need solutions. Then I start to realize the world is divided into problem causers and problem solvers, and I want to be a problem solver.

    So I don’t sleep at all if I think about it too much. I think this is a very insightful post.

  43. Arthur Gabriele Says:

    Great topic, Ellen

    Also well-said, Sandy Graham. I’m a Ron Paul supporter.

    I believe that we are divided by our unique inherent biological properties. Joined by a medium for the purpose of interaction.

  44. Scot Says:

    Ellen – new reader of your blog – we hooked up in Twitter. Many great posts.

    Maybe the world is divided in those who think it is divided and those who think it is not.

    I follow the premise that we are all more alike then we are different. At least at our core level.

    Are we not all just people who express ourselves in different ways? – This, however, does not change the fact of who we are, does it?

    Some like fruit. Some do not. But they all eat.

  45. Tom Says:

    As I watch the Michael Jackson Memorial Broadcast . . .

    Ayn Rand divided the population into Builders and Looters.

    Some things that make you go Hmmmmm. . .

    What are the networks doing with the commercial proceeds?

  46. Joanna Says:

    My father was more select in how he divided the world. He use to say, “The world is full of crazy people, except for you and me. . . and I am not so sure about you.”

  47. Carole Brown Says:

    The world is divided into Those Who Communicate and Those Who Do Not.

    Into the latter category come those who believe that if you love them, you can read their minds and that you know exactly how to please them and also what upsets them. All that without a single word passing their lips!

    Of course, none of them are likely to visit this blog and make a comment, for blogs are for those who like to communicate . . . aren’t they?

  48. Jon H. Says:

    The biggest debate I have ever really had with my wife is that she likes the roll of bathroom tissue to go over the top, and I like it to unroll it from underneath.

    The solution . . . we have a dispenser that holds the roll vertically (and No, we do not have issues with whether it rolls from the left or rolls from the right).

    Perhaps what is important is not the actually differences themselves, but our willingness to build the bridges that span the two.

    Now don’t get me started on the differences between Old or original Coke and the New Coke the Coca Cola company tried to pawn off on us beverage connoisseurs. And what’s up with Kentucky Grilled Chicken?!

  49. Linda Boone Says:

    Not sure I can add much to the profound comments.

    So how about those who eat their corn cobs across like a typewriter and those who eat it twirling around? Here’s to healthy food!

  50. Joan Says:

    Too mi, the woyrld iz devidid in two thoze hu can spel and thoze hu cant.

    Did I get your attention? : )

    Okay, seriously, to me the world is divided into those who think critically and those who don’t.

    A quote from William Graham Sumner: “The critical habit of thought, if usual in society, will pervade all its mores, because it is a way of taking up the problems of life.

    “Men educated in it cannot be stampeded by stump orators . . . They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence, uninfluenced by the emphasis or confidence with which assertions are made on one side or the other. They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices and all kinds of cajolery.

    “Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens.”

  51. Carole L. Says:

    The world is divided between those who are tough, and those who are not. Duh!

  52. Art Says:

    My first thought is that I live in a world of gray, not black and white. My sister a mathematician and high school teacher has always been a black or white person. Amazing, same parents, grew up in the same town, same schools, only a year apart, but our outlooks from early on became very divergent.

    Gray is more challenging because there are fewer absolutes to fall back on and know you’re safe. On the other hand, the flexibility to consider each situation on its own merits and probably having both positive and negative aspects has fostered my success in many demanding and challenging situations.

  53. Art Says:


    Your thoughts and a number of the responses remind me of a series of questions I tend to ask people when I interview them for the job. The questions seem “weird” and out of left field to a lot of people, but give me an interesting insight to the personality of the candidate. Your post leans in the same direction.

    I ask the individual to describe their day from the time they wake up in the morning until they go to bed at night.

    I find some people are up and out of the house in 5 – 10 minutes, while others take their time in the morning. The follow-up questions lead to an understanding of whether the individual (especially a potential manager) is thinking and planning ahead for the day, or if they are just going to show up to work, have their coffee and then wait to see what the COD (crisis of day) is.

    I can also usually identify the so-called “morning people” that will accomplish the bulk of their achievements before lunch and then taper off.

    I learn similar information about the person’s end-of-day routine. I’ve known people that really stop work so that they can wrap everything up and clear their desk before they go home at night. Those individuals will often have a list of things they plan to do tomorrow prepared and posted in their “day-timer”. On the other hand, there are those that will work until the last minute, leave their desk in a mess and pick it up in the morning.

    Again, I see this as a gray area vs black or white / right or wrong. It is just important to understand the dynamics and make sure the person is matched to the right situation.

    • ellenbrandtphd Says:

      Yet another blog-within-a-blog!

      You are a very creative bunch, Dear Commentators!

  54. Luis Says:

    There are those that make decisions and BUILD and those that sit back and Play Monday Morning Quarterback.

    There are those that try and those that judge the ones that try.

    There are those that are right and those that think that they are right.

    There are those that Love and share and those that do not have time.

    There are those that look for exciting destinations and enjoy and those that think it is dangerous because the media says so.

  55. Andre Says:

    The world is divided into the Dreamers, the Talkers, and the Doers. While many have great ideas, and others can inspire those dreamers to take action, few can execute the ideas into actions for the “worker bees.”

    We (mostly) all want to make this world a better place, but we often get lost between the aspiration and the reality. We have to step off the edge more often!

  56. Ramsey Says:

    I believe that life is all about the choices we make.

    It is the choices we make that often result in our differences or divisions. However I believe, in some cases, that differences are a positive not a negative phenomenon.

    For example, we need enterpreneurs, but we also need workers who have no entrepreneurial spirit.We need skilled workers, but we also need unskilled workers. We need people with leadership skills, but also people who are willing to be led.We need people who are creative and articulate, but we also need people who are willing to be listeners and appreciate/execute creative ideas.

    My job is an estate planning and elder law attorney. I have some clients who want to be firmly in control. They want to take the “bull by the horns”, so to speak, and complete all the necessary planning today. They recognize the risk in doing nothing. These same clients are also aware of the importance of reviewing and updating, if necessary, their plan. However I have other clients (by far the majority) who wait until they are in crisis mode before considering making a plan to protect their family and assets. I think we all know which is the smarter approach – plan earlier rather than later. Yet, in my experience, most people make the decision to defer or procrastinate, even when they have a friend or relative who has just experienced hardship due to a lack of planning or failure to plan.

    I would characterize this division as those with foresight versus those without foresight or who are in denial.

    Sound familiar?

  57. Judy Martin Says:

    My perspective is different. I think we have all those aspects of ourself within, it just depends on how well we can cultivate the stillness within to tap the greatest potential in any given moment. I like the idea of having the courage to identify with that part of ourselves that rises to the occasion.

  58. Beth Meixner Says:

    I think that people are either optimists or pessimists. Do you see the glass half empty or half full? Is it a chance to fail or and an opportunity to succeed? Don’t just exist but live life by appreciating the small things and embracing your relationships with family, friends and colleagues.

  59. Marc Katz Says:

    This extremely thought provoking. I always try to unwind at the end of my day, but this is going to keep me awake for hours. I am glad to see that you are one of the movers and shakers, those who care, and those who affect change. Thanks again.

  60. Alan Says:

    Several people have already noted the division into those who divide arbitrarily and those who don’t.

    I’d like to amplify, and offer my own take on that:

    Divide as you will, there is much more that is common among all of us. Yet the very first thing we do in many circumstances is define “us” and “them” in some way.

    What we often fail to notice is that the divisions are not fixed, and those in one category by one criterion are often on the other side of some alternate line. Serious and snarky, engaged and disengaged, labor and management, “left” and “right” and the rest of that tiresome spectrum, East and West, cat people and dog people, all of these and more – and what do we end up with when it’s all done?

    People. Cranky, kind, boring, interesting people.

    Maybe the division is between those who would divide and those who would unite. And maybe it isn’t.

  61. Beverly Says:

    I see only one thing when I look at the world. . .an amazing balance between all things that works as perfectly as it was intended.

    I see that we are all humans. . .we are all creatures. . .we are all a part of Creation and a design that requires each of us to be a part of it.

  62. Marit Menzin Says:

    Nice post. Thank you.
    When I look around I see winners and losers. Optimists and pessimists. The winners are people who are content with what they have.

  63. maryellenmiller Says:

    Once I went to MBA school I quickly realized the world is divided into two groups: those who love acccounting and hate statistics and those who love statistics and hate accounting.

    Once I began viewing stats as a foreign language, I quickly fell into the latter group (and aced my final.) Thanks for asking for my opinion.
    Loyally, Mary Ellen Miller, MBA and Kappa Sister

  64. Patricia Grace Says:

    Ellen, as always, I chuckle at your musings!

    In my opinion the world is divided into people that respond to emails and those that don’t…people who return phone calls and those that don’t…

    I’m sure you know what category I fall into…

    Keep up the great work you are doing. The industry needs more humor!

  65. Patrick Says:

    I believe that there are two types of people in the workplace today: one group that is awake to the experiences, challenges, and opportunities in every encounter and the other group that cannot see past I, me or my.

    As a believer of self-determined destiny, I beleive that everyone has the opportunity to open their mind to see the world from many angles. Unfortunately, it takes effort.

  66. Mariano Says:

    Is the world divided? I thought it was flat. Oops, I meant round. I guess it’s both flat and round depending upon where one’s standing.

  67. George M. Says:

    Nice to see a few folks try to look at the big picture and not just emails all day. Keep up the great work.

  68. Rick Says:

    The world is divided into those who ask, Why? and those who ask, Why Not?

    With thanks to Bobby Kennedy.

  69. Lynda Says:

    Thanks Ellen. Fun to think about and read what others are thinking.

    For me, the world is divided between those who are Alive and those who are Dying or Dead Already but don’t know it.

    The difference between Alive, Surviving and Thriving and Dying is having quit or given up for whatever reason.

    Give me the Living. The alternative will come at us quickly enough.

  70. Jeff Says:


    Isn’t the thought of “divided” deceptive in nature?

    Doesn’t having a difference of opinion or an opinion at all really bring us together?

    So. . . look beyond the obvious, and I think you will find the world as we know it imperfect in perception but perfect in form.

    That’s life.

    Together we stand…divided we fall.

    • ellenbrandtphd Says:


      Not you, too!

      We need more comic relief again, people!

      You are all brilliant. But Wow, are you somber!

  71. Jan Schwartz Says:

    At this point in time my world is divided into those who say, “but we’ve always done it this way” and those who say, “let’s try something different–it might be a better way.” I want to disembowel the former–and feed the entrails to my chickens.

  72. suescheff Says:

    When I end my day (if it really ever ends), reflection of the day can keep me up all night – or put me out like the light.

    The differences in people, opinions and experiences is what makes life always like a box of chocolates… (yeah, sappy, but I loved Forrest Gump) – and it is true – we never know what we are going to get – who we are going to meet – or where are going to end up!

    We can always take the worst situation and find the positive in it – we can always find things we don’t like about a person – and appreciate their opinions….

    Okay – it is late and I am babbling… Great Blog Ellen -thanks for sharing!

  73. WGS Says:

    Those who Notice and Those who Don’t.

  74. Bob Says:

    Hi Ellen,

    My background and passion is helping companies improve their profitability.

    The world of companies is divided into those struggling because of “Old World Thinking” and those more forward-looking companies which practice “New World Thinking.”

    The main difference between these two camps, in my opinion, is how they approach improvement.

    Successful companies believe in and utilize the “Theory of Constraints (TOC)” which identifies the leverage points of the business and focuses improvement efforts on these points of leverage.

    Less successful companies don’t have focus and attempt to improve everything at once. I call this phenomenon “Attempting to Solve World Hunger.”

    Great blog Ellen!

  75. Sandy Smith Says:

    Leaving aside the motivational divide, mentioned in various permutations here, it seems that there is some primordial need within us humans to divide the world into Us and Them.

    Is this because we have only a limited capacity to feel empathy, and thus carve a small sphere of Us, worthy of our empathy, out of the huge mass of humanity, most of it equally worthy?

    Or is something else at work?

  76. Angil Tarach Says:

    Great Blog Ellen!

    To me the world is divided into the empathetic, and the “it’s all about me” people.
    Those who care and those who don’t.

  77. Rebecca Staton-Reinstein Says:

    Thought-provoking conversation! Thanks, everyone. My addition: Those who are grateful and those who are resentful.

    The grateful understand and appreciate their gifts and use them to create. The resentful are consumed by their negativity and never develop their own gifts and try to tear down others’ gifts. These roughly parallel those who wallow in being a victim and those who refuse to be defined by others.

  78. Sean Melvin Says:

    Hi Ellen

    A great post! I’m more concerned with those that have and those that don’t.

    I can’t help but worry about the children in the latter group.

    Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world.

  79. Lynda Says:

    Hi Ellen,

    Because my post was edited before making it to the stream I guess I have to say that the world is divided between those who interpret and those who are interpreted.



    • ellenbrandtphd Says:


      Sometimes respondents write very quickly and don’t edit themselves.

      I try to correct spelling and grammatical errors, so they are not upset looking at their posts a day or two later.

      I also have to tone down some things for Word Press reasons. Certain words and expressions will move your site from a G to an R rating. I don’t want that to happen.

  80. Thomas W. Says:

    After reading some, but not all of the previous opinions, I am embarrassed that, as a former English teacher, I needed a dictionary for some of the replies.

    To my credit, however, I did use the dictionary to understand what others were saying.

    I see people falling into three main categories.Those who want to go forward, those who want to stay where they are, and those who want to move back to a previous time.

    All three categories rely on comfort.
    The forward movers are willing to be uncomfotable for the sake of change and hoping to be comfortable in a new situation.

    The “Stay Where They are People” are very set in their comfort and would rather fight and argue to stay where they are because it is more comfortable than moving.

    The third group is living in the present, but if they had their druthers, they would go back in their life to a period of time where they were even more comfortable. Fortunately, they seem to be a minority.

    In most issues that I have dealt with as an educator, comfort has been the factor for both promoting and preventing change.

    There is nothing profound in this. It is only my observation.

  81. Joanna S. Says:

    Good food for thought, Ellen

    I guess if pressed, I’d have to say that to me the world is full of people who are either Nice or Not Nice. Like music, there are only two types – good and not good. Get past genres, and we can distinguish the quality.

  82. Tanya R Says:

    Hi Ellen:

    What an excellent post. It certainly feels all to often there are only two choices, but why must we “throw the baby out with the bath water?”

    In my current work, there is real divide with those who want to make a difference at an individual level in public health, and those who want to affect change to the population health curve.

    In my idealistic world, we can marry the two approaches and have real interaction with our clients in a macro-approach to public health and health promotion.

    The wheels are certainly turning. Thank you for providing this thought- provoking article and forum for dialogue.


  83. Bob L. Says:

    The saying “Desperate times require desperate measures” applies to so many people in today’s extremely challenging times.

    Under ideal circumstances, the world shouldn’t be so divided, but today’s environment has forced many people to assess or reassess their personal and professional lives as a whole.

    With so many people seriously challenged more than they’ve ever seen or could/would have imagined, it’s no wonder there’s such a split.

    There is no “one answer fits all” here. Until people begin caring as much for each other as they do for themselves, this split will remain.

  84. Sherry Tucker Brown Says:

    Bob Springborn says it BEST! I most defifinitely agree! This World likes to take our attention away, if we let it, from who we truly are and our connection to the Soul Force!

  85. Bob Says:

    What an absolutely great blog Ellen!! You always have a way of bringing the best out of people. What a talent you have and I’m proud to know you.


  86. David Solie Says:

    The world is divided into problems and dilemmas.

    The problems are reasonably straightforward. The house needs painting. I need to put more money away for retirement. I need to make a follow up appointment for my mother. These are things that have actual answers.

    The dilemmas are complex, messy, unsolvable, confusing, and require decisions between two or more puzzling choices. How do fix a healthcare system that is 80% specialists, medication dominated, and a cash cow for a few select insurers?

    How do you respond to siblings who see their aging parents need more, but opt out of any contribution?

    How do you instill gratitude and patience in your children who live in a hyper-consumptive world of 24/7 connectivity?

    Not surprising, the dilemmas consume all of our time. They require us to tango with complexity and accept a higher level of uncertainty that neither feels right or ‘normal.”

  87. Bob Springborn Says:

    Thanks Sherry!

    Once we focus on our ego, we start to gently become more aware of the false self that these powerful “little friends” have over us. Constantly shuttling between past and future (disappointment and disaster).

    By staying in the NOW, in each present moment, we are able, even briefly, to move out of separateness and into simply being (or oneness).

  88. John Scheifele Says:

    The World Is Divided into two kinds of people, both of which I see in myself: Those who relish being “Rulers-of-Their-Universe,” forgetting it is Always An Illusion . . . Didn’t much work for Idi Amin Dada, president-for-life, did it? . . . and Others who – possibly in their 50s – are slammed into semi-wet concrete, escaping permanent scarring only by peeling our faces off the floor in the nick of time and releasing our former champagne self-illusions of grandeur and control.

    I am finished blaming Life or blaming others for recent curve balls and finished running from my own fear.

    I’m now at peace and relish the next day’s fastest pitch!

  89. Donahue Says:

    I have always heard that the world is divided into two groups: Those that divide the world into two groups and those that don’t.

  90. Trevor Schmidt Says:

    Hi Ellen,

    Thank you for this. It is refreshing to see other like-minded individuals marching the trenches in this sometimes crazy world.

    The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who live life without consideration for the world around them and tose who live their life with kindness and consideration for the world around them.

    I believe strongly that our flight path is already chosen for us from the moment we are conceived. We can make choices that have some impact on the altitude of the flight, but we cannot steer the plane, so to speak.

    The reason I say this with so much conviction is due to reflection on my life. I cannot believe that some of the things I have experienced or lived through have actually occurred. It’s pretty amazing how the universe has all fallen into alignment to create all of these past experiences that make me who I am today.

    But I wouldn’t want it any other way. I am content with my life, and I am where I want to be for the most part ;)

  91. Jeff Moskovitz Says:

    There are those who derive policy from Chinese fortune cookies, and then there are those outside of Washington, D.C.

  92. Nicolette Toussaint Says:

    Right brain people and left brain people. Those who think in images and whose first impulse is to draw a picture, and those who explain it in words, symbols and numbers.

    Very few people are switch-hitters when it comes to which hemisphere of the brain one favors – but my husband says I’m one of those. (He’s turning 80, and he says he’s only met two left-right brain hybrids in his life.)

  93. gmcquade Says:


    The world is divided into the haves and have nots – and the biased and the open-minded.

    This is nothing new. What is becoming more apparent is how biased the media has become and how they report on stories according to their background and experience.

    They have had rose-colored glasses on for years, which is why blogs have become more popular and now more credible. People want info right now, not just at 6:00 PM on TV.

    Even radio has a challenge here. Print, TV, and radio are learning first-hand just how divided we are from new media posts, blogs and popular sites like Facebook and Twitter.

    Even the media cannot keep up. I heard from a colleague that they now have a content center at KNBC-TV news, my alum, which used to be called KNBC newsroom. Everything, he said, is run by computers.

    Thanks for sharing what a lot of us knew, but needs to be said.

  94. Mark Yolton Says:

    Interesting conversation-starter and thread.

    I like several of the above, plus others, including:
    * Dog people and cat people
    * Red states and Blue states
    * “Stoppers” and “Go-ers” (akin to “those who get it and those who don’t”)
    * Optimist or pessimist
    * Spiritual vs. not
    * Self-serving v. giving/generous
    * Introspective (self-analytical) or not

    I also agree that we apply these attributes in our own lives and work at different times and in different measures, and at times we are contradictory.

  95. Stephen Dale Says:

    Some great replies, some of which delve deeply into the human psyche.

    Of course, they are all correct. There are so many ways we can define the divisions – e.g. race, sex, religion, age, which football/cricket/hockey/baseball team we follow, etc.

    From my perspective, we’re all unique individuals that group or bond around something which has meaning for us. We should celebrate the differences, since these are what make us human and what drives our continued evolution.

    If we were all exactly the same and agreed on everything, then nothing much would happen and creativity would wither and die.

    If you do want to force me to define a division, I would say that the world is divided into males and females. That is surely the difference that has brought you, me, and everyone else into existence!

  96. Marianne Wolf Says:

    I totally agree there is a division.

    You see it everywhere you go, especially between those who ride on a crowded elevator and choose to look straight ahead and those who look around, smile and say “Hello.”

    Life’s too short, we should enjoy the ride together.

  97. Jim Moore Says:

    Good blog, Ellen, and a thoughtful challenge.

    There are so many brands and flavors of divisions, not just bi-lateral divisions, but multilateral divisions, that I’m hard-pressed to choose a “defining” division, but let’s try this one, because it struck me first.

    A moment ago, I finished “reading” to the blind, an early morning assignment for a volunteer organization that records and broadcasts several national newspapers and news magazines for vision-impaired people here in the Washington, D.C., area. I do this at my house, in a basement recording studio from which I call in to the organization’s recording center, and, for about two hours, read sections of the Washington Post, usually the National News, and, from time-to-time, Metro or Editorials or local events.

    I get up at a 5 a.m., pad out to the driveway and retrieve the Washington Post. At that time of day, if I’m lucky, as I was this morning, the sky is a wash of deep blue at the zenith gradually giving way to a smear of aqua at the horizon, and some stars and the brighter planets are hovering above — sometimes, as was this morning, sharing space with the moon, which looks like a pearl.

    As I stand there, surrounded by the soft sounds of mourning doves and the shick-schik-shick of timer-activated lawn sprinklers, I am totally taken with the idea that today I may have something to contribute. Today, maybe something I do will have some small effect on someone; it’s up to me to determine whether that effect is positive or negative.

    Will my reading help someone who is visually impaired or completely blind better understand world, national, or local events? Maybe. Will the tone of my voice over their radio or telephone hookup cause someone to have confidence in the news I’m reading? Possibly. Will my descriptions of the photos be clear enough? I hope so.

    But most important to me is that from where I stand in the driveway, with a new day completely at my disposal, I have choices – a choice to become engaged or a choice not to participate.

    The day will be filled with other choices, some mundane, like choosing which road to take to the office to avoid the worst of DC traffic, some perhaps more important, like deciding on elements of a speech I’m writing for my boss.

    We all have those choices, and we all experience different flavors of the results of those decisions. But, in the end, we all make one key decision at the start of each day: to engage with all we have, or stand off a distance and let events and other choices determine the course of our allotted 24 hours until the next dawn.

    So, to answer your challenge, I think the fundamental division, one that effects all classes, all cultures, is the division between those who, standing on the edge of a new dawn, say “I’m going to take this day and do my best with it, to the benefit of others, if I can” and those who say, “So what? It’s just another day.”

  98. Ruth Schwartz Says:

    I think it is these differences that make life interesting. If we weren’t different in all of these different ways, then we would be the same and that would be boring!

    That being said, the biggest division I see are the people who know that they are prosperous and wealthy, no matter how much, or how little money or assets they might have, and those who think they are poor, and live in that “not enough” world.

    I have to admit that I have been known to go back and forth between these two, and it is our nonprofit, Respecting Our Elders, that reminds me of my high level of prosperity that has absolutely nothing to do with how much money I have.

  99. Kelvin Says:

    I think that this is very true, and that there will always be such perceptions.

    The way a person sees him/herself is always the first reality and the basis of which to judge other things. Therefore, in the egocentric mindset, the personal perspective is “my way” or theirs.

    But ultimately, such views, if unwilling to at least step back every now and then to look at things from an objective perspective, are limiting.

  100. eric Says:

    The world is divided: Those who have jobs and those who do not…and those about to join the ranks of the have nots.

  101. Todd Drumm Says:

    The world is divided into those who earn a living and those who draw a paycheck.

    This directly correlates to those who go after life and work with passion and those who bore and frustrate everyone around them pretending to work and live, but more accurately resemble plant life.

  102. Jon Jacobs Says:

    The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who think the world is divided into two kinds of people, and those who don’t.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t invent this formulation. It’s the second-smartest aphorism I ever heard while in college. Number one is: Statistics are like people – if you torture them enough, they’ll confess.

  103. Donahue Says:


    Nice work, 122 responses!

    I offer to give away free stress management downloads and can’t get 2 people to respond…I am envious.


  104. Daniel Kauwe Says:

    I dunno, my side and not my side?

  105. Abbie Sladick Says:

    There are those that raise chickens and those that just pick up the box at the supermarket.

  106. JonMklSherry Says:

    Is there such a thing as a “perfect question?” If so, you managed to find it. Congrats!

  107. Scott Adams Says:

    WOW! What a response! There are those who do and those who don’t respond.

    My pet one is this. I think there are those who are strongly left-brained and those who are strongly right-brained.

    We all have both, but one determines how we view the world and ourselves.

  108. Steve Dale Says:

    The world is divided into 10 types: those who understand binary and those who don’t!

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