August 9, 2007


Disclaimer: I have used “he” as a general term to refer to both men and women. Ideally, it should be either he/she or they. However, for some arcane reason, we use “he” while referring to humanity as a whole. I do not want that error to detract us from the main theme of the post.

A statement I have heard many times over, and one I have come to detest (the feeling is beyond hate) is “I do not want to compare, but have you seen what x or y or z is doing?”

What is it that makes people compare? Why is something others do so important in our lives? What makes them capable of being the standard against which we measure our achievements?

Our marks were always compared to those of our close friends. This comparison was along the lines of “How come he/she has scored so much and you have not?”

As we grew up and left marks behind, it was then the performance at the workplace. Our team leader at appraisals will tell us that we do not deserve the bonus because someone somewhere did something more than us.

As we get married and start a family, what we bring to the table in the family is again set off against that done by others. I am reminded of the famous (not so famous if you are not a Tamilian) song from Yethir Neechal (Swimming against the current). It is called Aduthathu Ambujatha Paathela. During the course of the song, a wife compares what her husband brings home, what she has to the take home of the neighbors.

The best part of death is that it only then when our actions are taken in the absolute sense. There is no comparison; just what we did and whether they were good or bad.

Now that I have laid out the constancy of comparison in our lives, I would like to question the rationale behind it.

Any person, and therefore his actions are based, hopefully, on some reason. (Please do not make this post another battleground over whether there is reason behind every action or not)

Since we are working with this assumption, two people we are going to compare have reasons for the way that they are. This is to say that they have a certain premises based on which they act and live. There is no chance that their two premises will be the same. This is because of the uniqueness of the person.

When the two people to be compared are viewed by us, we are doing so based on our own premises. This is to say that we look at them from a third party position and try to compare what they are.

To me, this is not a valid comparison. How can one, based on their perspectives compare two things that are based on different perspectives? It is possible to compare the perspectives. This is to say that I can compare the reasons that the persons are what they are. I cannot compare what they are.

You see yourself,
In your own mirror.
He sees himself,
In his.
I compare
You and him,
In my mirror?
I compare
Not you and him,
I compare
The mirror
You both see


Anonymous said...

The very cause for improvement in most places is competition, which basically grounds on comparison. Each one says "I have to be the best" and not "I have to be my best". As long as this is present, I guess comparison is inevitable. Maybe the premises aren't right or no the same as the subjects of comparison, but hey! When it comes to my view, aren't my premises the most important to me?

This is to say that I can compare the reasons that the persons are what they are. I cannot compare what they are.
A kg measure of cotton and a kg of pebbles weigh the same. But are they the same? If I want cotton, and I had both cotton and pebbles in front of me, I'd compare both with my opinion of/need for cotton, and take it home. This may not hold immediate relevance to the post, but I guess you know what I mean.


Rajaraman said...

Every man has anambition to improve excel and be the best.If he has to be one, he nneeds to fulfill certain criteria. some of them he has within himself and some of them he does not possess.
He alwso burns within himself to be on par with some body or above him.
All these come out of comparison. If he really wants to imrove he find out his strength and weakness and improve upn weakness and consolidate strength.
In mangement parlance it is called. You take the habits methods and processes of the sucess stories and try to foloow and adjust to create basics of sucess in yourself. or else no body improves. Even in cat/Gmat exams it is the comparison that makes the percentile.
As long it is positive, we should agree adn build on it.
It should lead to negativity greed or jealousy.

Lazy Lavender said...

I compare
Not you and him,
I compare
The mirror
You both see

Shouldn't it be "The mirror in which I see you both"?