Einstein is the name that has become synonymous with intelligence. If one hears someone says, “My friend is an Einstein”, no one gets confused and asks back, “What do you mean? Einstein is dead.” Everyone understands the reference to intelligence. Einstein may have had other characteristics as well, but no one seems to care about those. Intelligence was enough. In those people who understand that Einstein = intelligence, there would some who may not even know why is it so. There maybe some who would know that he was a scientist, so a smart guy, but then there are thousands of other scientists as well. Some maybe little more aware of his contribution to science and thus a more direct appreciation of this association. Einstein, for those who don’t know, is widely known for his theory of relativity. But, even those who know, heard or read about his relativity theory may not actually understand to the depths that Einstein related to. A common man, like me, can only dance around the surface of this concept and feel, that I understand E=mc2. But does that mean that I or millions of people really understands Einstein’s relativity theory? I, in my ignorance, think that the answer is NO, these people don’t understand Einstein’s relativity theory and its impact. When a common man uses the term relative, it has very difference context. Today, let’s explore some of those relative contexts that are more important for a common man.
An individual has layers of social circles around herself. Those layers may also be sliced based on different attributes that a person has and also characteristics that person happened to develop.
These in my understanding are the fundamental blocks that define various types of relative context for a person. Outward going relative references moves from me > my family > my locality > my state > my culture > my country and so on. Do note that these are in no mean follow a linear relationship. E.g. a person of “my culture” from another country might be more related than a person of different culture from the locality where I live now. Nevertheless, in general relationship strength follows the law of kinship, or so some anthropologist says.
Personal attributes and characteristics shape this relativity heavily. From simple biological characteristic of gender and age to geography, believes, upbringing, biases etc, all have an effect of the outcome of relativity equation. A female may give different weightage to aesthetics than a male. A child has different way of looking at the world that a teenager or an adult or an old-age person. A person living in a city might give different importance to certain factors than someone in a remote village. Similarly, people living by river would have different outlook towards water management than some one in a desert.
Context is 3rd factor that influence how relativity would be defined and calculated. E.g. a mother may scold their kids at home and tell them how they can learn from other kids, but if it is a social context, then her kids would be the best kids in the world. This happens time and again. People may talk about keeping things neat and organized when they are in their social circle, but the moment they are back to their private circle, they may not care where the shoes are or if dishes are washed or not.
Having explored briefly some of the factors influencing common man’s relativity, let me try to list few of the situation where relativity is used in life.
- My effort is more valuable than others or at least values the same as others. This simple looking relative statement can have many forms and direction. One can evaluate in terms of hours, meaning, output, human emotions and capabilities, idea of equity vs equality and so on.
- Leading on from that, if I am the one leading the race then equity is the way, but if I am the one lagging behind, then equality is the way. You generally won’t hear from a winner of a race to say, we are all the same, lets divide the prize equally; I practiced for years to win it , just so that I can share my winnings.
- My lifestyle is thoughtful and balanced and socially aware, while others are the ones who are careless. Once, I was talking to someone who complained about rich people and politicians spending so much on travel, expensive cars, private jets, houses and so on. He said, I manage mine in sensible way. He drove a Porsche to work, had house just to spend couple of weeks of holidays to say the least.
- My believes are more valuable than others. To make it simpler think of Religion. It is a long old belief that has helped changed the world in many ways. Today, there are people who are against that definition of Religion, but underneath following more and less same ideology as old Religion. If nothing else think about discussion between an iPhone vs an Android fan, left vs right political factions and so on.
- Others are the cause of the troubles and are the reason that world is segregated. This is quite a big topic and can overlap many other themes as well. If you come from an IT world think about fight of one standard protocol for any thing from internet to charging cables. As Samsung and Apple can both publish their standards of phone charging connectors and blame others for not following their standards.
- My truth is truth and yours is a conspiracy if not a lie. This is of course one special psychological puzzle. It is not just about big conspiracies like 5G, COVID-19, Chemtrails, climate change, GMO and so on. But this exists in small daily discussions. Recently, I came across a scenario in a movie. Wife suspects that her husband is having an affair with his co-worker. This co-worker have a boyfriend. Wife questions her husband to tell the truth and he says, there is nothing like that. She denies and says that it is a lie and he must tell the truth. Now, how can that be resolved. Not to blame ladies to be skeptical, but there are people who believe that 9-11 attack never happened because no plane ever hit the twin tower. There are people who still believe that Apollo mission never landed on the moon.
Not one of these scenarios have anything to do with Einstein’s relativity theory, yet these are the relative topics that are more important to a common man than solving cosmic mystery of the universe. While Einstein did manage to put universal relativity into an equation(with some assumptions as a base), but there is still no equation that we are aware of to solve the relative concerns of an ordinary person. The fight and struggle of my theory is better than yours continues.
The fact that we do not have any mathematical equation to define common man’s relativity theory, makes it more complex problem than Einstein’s relativity theory or would this be getting into loop of yet another relativity debate? I don’t know if this relativity can be squeezed into an equation or not. But, it is surely the one that seems to keep on moving our world in many different ways and many different paths. I hope we may have more debates around if my smile and laugh is better and healthier than you or not.
“It certainly is hard,” said the sad individual “to love one’s relatives.” “HARD? ” said Nasrudin. “HARD? IT IS PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE!”