To my son Tommy,
Despite the incessant hacking cough throughout the weekend, it is often hard to tell when you are sick. You are such a pleasant young lad and even in your most miserable states you have a better attitude than most. We kept you home from school today, and brought you to the doctor's office. You have an ear infection and your asthmatic lungs need a boost to recover from a little chest cold. We are now armed with an antibiotic for the ear infection and small batch of some prednisolone to kick your lungs back into high gear.
If we had just gone on your attitude, and compared it not to your norm but to the normal of most, we wouldn't have thought anything wrong. You were happy go lucky even as the doctor announced you had the ear infection. This is just another example of why you shouldn't compare yourself or anyone else to others. You have to have a baseline of normal for each person on their own to truly judge. Only then can you see the subtle changes and indicators that otherwise would be missed.
This is a problem that exists in so many different areas of society. What is normal for some is abnormal for others and thus often missed. You see it in all walks of life from medicine to education to even our court system.
If a person who normally has a 120 over 80 blood pressure (or perhaps higher) comes to a doctor with a 90 over 60 blood pressure, the doctor compares it to some chart that averages society and sends them home because it is in an acceptable range. By comparing to others, you can miss potential problems.
A student who takes a test and gets a 75 on it is said to be average. No one considers that a month ago that student may have gotten a 50 on the same test and has shown such effort in improving himself. Instead they compare him to others and send the message that no matter how much you improve yourself, you will never be anything but mediocre. Instead we should be rewarding the hard work and encouraging it to continue. By comparing to others, you can kill dreams.
Two guys running for the same political position, one wearing a suit, the other more casually dressed. Many assume the better dressed man more dedicated or better equipped. By comparing to others, you can elect money rather than common sense.
The list goes on and on if you compare to others. You can mistake showmanship for true acts of charity. You can mistake righteousness for true faith. You can mistake makeup for inner beauty. So make sure, when you compare, you do so thoughtfully and with all considerations of who that person really is and how they normally present. You can save yourself and many others the problems that come when you misjudge, just because it was normal for everyone else.
Sincerely with love from your dad,