It’s All Relative

It's All Relative

Bouncing along the seldomly smooth roads of northern Tanzania, I kept my camera in hand. Alongside the packed dirt roads were young children running around chasing sheep and goats. I learned that kids were often put in charge of a flock and it was their responsibility to find new grasses to graze. To some it may seem unfair that these children are put to work so young, but they are receiving an education for the life they will know. They will learn to care for animals, the value of responsibility and where to find the greenest grass in a country often ravaged by drought.

I spent a couple of years living in Egypt, where I made a point of visiting some of the poorest regions. At first, the poverty seemed almost absurd, so unbelievable in its difference from my own life in Canada. An Egyptian friend, who shared a small apartment with three dogs and no furnishings taught me a valuable lesson, he told me “We don’t feel poor, this is a normal life.”

People don’t often realize that despite their own life feeling “normal”, it isn’t. There is no norm for how humans live. We are born into different environments and adapt accordingly, a blend of nature and nurture. The “poverty” in Egypt felt overwhelmingly surreal to me, but now as I walk down the snow covered sidewalks of Toronto, the affluence and excess feels just as surreal and doubly as absurd. After all, it’s all relative.

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