We need to see others as individuals, not by comparison. The most dangerous comparison of all is comparing another to one’s self.
Humans are social creatures. We live in tribes, clans, and families. We gather in large aggregations and participate in social activities that reward us with wealth, social status, respect, and fame. For many people, the hierarchy of this social activity is an all-consuming focus.
With this social activity comes the inevitability of comparison. There are others. There is me. In the gap between the two questions arise. How do I compare to them? How do they compare to each other? Am I rising or falling? How am I doing?
The reality is that we will never know. The goals, motivations, failures, set-backs, lessons, effort, history and support of others are mostly hidden from us. We cannot know exactly how they are going or what the outward manifestations mean for their personal sense of achievement. Appearances are deceptive.
Even if there was value in comparison, we live on a planet where there are just too many other people. With all those people there are millions of ways to discriminate. There is no end to the comparisons that can be made. Know your place in one domain and another will arise to confound you.
To compare we need to see some things as like us and others as not. Ultimately, these comparisons diminish our individuality our uniqueness and our ability to contribute to the diversity of our society. As appealing as comparisons may be to our hierarchical brain, we are wiser to see each person as a unique individual.
The answer to each of the questions is not outside us. Comparisons get us know closer to understanding what will offer us meaning, happiness and satisfaction. Comparions offer no insight into others. We can learn from others and collaborate with others. Competing with others should be saved for situations where that is the point of the game. Competition is not the meaning of our social, human lives.