It’s All Relative

Our minds seem to compel us to be constantly placing everything we encounter on a spectrum. A spectrum of quality, character, attractiveness, intelligence. But, for example, knowing that there are people suffering from horribly painful illnesses doesn’t make it less painful to stub your toe.

And, speaking of scales, regardless of how annoying this can be in conversation, when you’re trying to talk about how the Bachelor chose the wrong woman and the other person changes the conversation with a line like “who cares since America chose the wrong President”, it will never be as problematic as it is in the context of policy making.

For example: Doug Jones was in the news today tanking his goodwill amongst the country’s Democrats by saying that they needed to let go of the sexual harassment and assault allegations against Trump in favour of more substantive issues. He’s decided that sexual harassment isn’t as important an issue as his own political priorities, and effectively that women should stop airing their complaints so that his own complaints can take precedence.

And while we can’t let the Russia drama take up all the air in the conversation at the expense of discussing healthcare and taxes, and as Canadians we can’t spend all our time discussing Trump and neglect our own domestic politics, we should be able to walk and chew gum. We should be able to have multiple conversations at once. We should be able to allow for the fact that different issues will be important in different ways and that the stakes of those issues are different without being dismissive.

Because pain is pain and struggle is struggle. There are different kinds of beauty and different kinds of intelligence, and they need not be ranked against one another in order for their quality to be acknowledged. Rather, the relevance of a given quality or issue can be assessed in individual circumstances and contexts. Which is to say that the fact that stubbing my toe isn’t as bad as a chronic pain disorder doesn’t become relevant until we’re in competition for resources or until that’s the topic of conversation.

NB: This isn’t to say, for example, that Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter are both valid issues. Black Lives Matter is bringing attention to an important issue and All Lives Matter is trying to undermine efforts to address that issue with a straw man argument. Rather, to use the same example, this is just to say that Black Lives Matter shouldn’t be told to wait its turn while “more important” issues are being addressed.

 

Posted in: Progress

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