Originally posted on 12th March 2011
Recently, someone said to me “it is all relative” as I am sure they have said it to you and I am sure they will continue to say. But it is this notion of relativity that I want to talk about today. Not going to get into Einsteinian physics because I am just not that good, what I do want to talk about is the concept that something can increase or decrease in merit purely because of the things around it. I am sure that there are no absolute answers when it comes to this, but it is something worth thinking about.
If I break my leg, does it hurt less because someone else breaks both of theirs? I don’t think it does,I think that each case has its own inherent properties. If I am sad, the fact that someone else is sadder doesn’t make me happier. I do not think that every case of misfortune is equal, it is evident that loosing a limb is worse than loosing a sock I am not trying to belittle anything that has happened to other people I am just saying that the scale of someone else’s bad luck doesn’t change that of yours.
It is interesting that when people use the “it’s all relative” statement they are normally trying to make you feel better. You never hear some one who is happy about having passed an exam being told, “well it’s all relative…someone just won the Nobel peace prize”! I think it is important to recognise the magnitude of something for what it is. Telling someone that they should feel better about something bad because some people have it worse is insulting!
It is a truth that can be applied to many walks of life, a tall building doesn’t get shorter because the on next door is taller. A piece of art is as good as it is, it is not suddenly worse because someone makes a better one!
It was tricky to find a photo, to go with today’s postulation but I thought I’d go with this. It is a picture I took of the London Eye and I like it. There are hundreds (thousands/millions) of pictures of this subject, I do not like mine any less because there are thousands of better ones or any more because some are worse. The quality of the picture belongs to it and cannot be changed by comparison.
Incidentally I do have to be careful to not take this principle too far, there is still room in life for perspective, just be aware that by telling someone that “it could be worse” it may make them feel worse because it makes them feel they have no right to feel the way they do.
I like wearing two watches, I may vary it and try two different ones on monday…someone will notice one day 🙂