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Everything Is Relative

One of the many books I have read is “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely, a Psychology and Behavioral Economics Professor at Duke University. I have read a couple of his books in 2013. The book aims to teach us how to understand one’s behavior, for the choices we take and the decisions we make, which sometimes makes us irrational. The first chapter of the book talks about relativity, not the Theory of Relativity of Einstein but this — The truth about relativity: why everything is relative, even when it shouldn’t be. It made me understand how perspective, the availability of limited information, and personal biases play a role in our decision-making process.

The book is an eye-opener which led me to question myself and my choices in life, how I react to situations around me — what is rational, who defines it, and why do other see me weird and why are others weirder than me. Since then, I have been conscious of my decisions and judgments towards myself and others. I became more sensitive before responding (although sometimes I just burst out.) I taught myself to understand the belief that everything in life is relative.

So why is everything relative? We were born and raised in different circumstances, from a unique combination of family members, in different dynamics of society. And as we grow, we all believe that all the experiences in life help us evolve and grow to become a better person to yourself, a better citizen of our country, a better individual to the planet. But why is it not so to some extent? Because we fight to live for our own survivals. It is a tough life. We play in an environment where there are different norms, rules, and values we ought to abide. Each one of us has a different point of views, perceptions, and perspectives in every single situation. Different external stimuli can trigger different persona in us. Life is a competition.

With all these aspects comes the question — what is the ultimate truth? How do we arrive at that truth? Is there a single path towards it? There is no single answer to this, I believe. Again, everything is relative. That is what I believe. Your truth is different from my truth, and that is based on personal believes, values, and experiences in life. For example, I like my coffee without sugar because for me it tastes good, others prefer it with sugar as it tastes good, too. A friend said that it is cheaper to buy in bulk (or in advance) since it comes with huge discounts. Well, good for him since he can afford it; but for families without much disposable income, their purchasing power is relatively weaker than his. My friends are sometimes your friends, but not all our mutual friends get along because of our differences and our biases. I see him as a good friend while you believe otherwise.

But then again, we are bounded to follow rules and laws. Ignorantia Juris non excusat (Ignorance of the Law Excuses No One.) That is the baseline that helps establish what is the truth. All things beyond these are relative. And there is power to relativity. And that is the power of humility, compassion, and empathy which makes the world a better place to live.

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