Relativity: the Problem

 Short men are happy, for they can pass easily through the door. Tall men are happy, for they can stand erect and pluck oranges with their hands. Again, short men are angry, for they cannot stand erect and pluck oranges with their hands. Again, tall men are angry, for they cannot pass easily through the door.  ~  Michael Bassey Johnson


There’s a virus circulating on social media sites. It’s the same contagion we’re vulnerable to when we go to the grocery store, turn on the TV or text on our cells. We’re so susceptible that most of us have been passive hosts since childhood. We became infected by phrases like: You should be grateful, others have it so much worse…

It’s embedded in the thoughts that comfort us, sometimes dormant, sometimes flaring up. We reflexively think it and often speak it: Comparatively speaking…

Comparatively speaking the weather is good; the pay is fine; the pain is manageable; the loss is less…

If my contentment lies in anything beyond my present reality, it’s fragile at best and worse yet, it’s a covetous contentment.  The contentment of relativity says I can only find my stability, peace, serenity, bliss in relationship to the lesser security, peace, contentment, and happiness of another.

It’s the It could be worse syndrome.  Yes things could always be worse but that isn’t gratitude that’s just fatalism. It could just as well be better and that certainly isn’t gratitude, that’s greed.



Author: Debbie

A former counselor and public speaker, I'm grateful for many, many things - God's grace most of all!

5 thoughts on “Relativity: the Problem”

  1. I’ve too have been uneasy in recent past with the tendency to rely on comparisons for contentment. Yet I do feel there is a place for them… comparisons that is. That place however, is not at the centre of our contentment. I agree, true contentment, true gratitude, true humility ought not be contingent on our awareness of others with less. Indeed it is a habit our culture has bred into us. Not a good one.

    I dare say, I would rather err on the side of comparison-based contentment, than wallow in the pit of self-pity and utter ungratefulness that I used to. And stark comparisons have been used at times to jolt me out of my funks. One instance comes to mind was how deep I felt self-pity over seeing my kids less post-divorce. Then one day, a good friend’s young son dies tragically in front of him in a car accident.

    Was it unhealthy of me to then feel deep gratitude that I still had my kids in my life in comparison to him never seeing his again? It woke me up. Big time.

    I am not challenging the point of your post. I do agree with it. What though, do we do with the inevitable comparisons like this that seem to serve a purpose? Is there a healthy place for them that does not compete with un-contingent contentment? I wonder.

  2. I’m so glad to have the chance to read your blog again!!! Thank you for the time invested in this. You challenge me, inspire me and encourage me. This is so true about the contentment of relativity. Is there a T-shirt? I need it. Thank you!

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