Monday, May 9, 2022

Good, Better, Best

This business of praising people, I thought, was a certain way of only giving pleasure to others. Till, of course, I actually started practicing it. Ye Gods! The amount of ill-will you can actually create, the raging battles that you can set off merely by the act of praising someone!

You know, way back in school, I was taught this thing about the positive, the comparative and the superlative.(What was that? Drat it, I do so remember what I was taught in school - so what if it is one lesson in a hundred?) So, yes, you can call someone good, you can call someone better and you can call someone the best in order to praise them. And you sort of get the impression that 'better' is...err...better than 'good' and 'best' is, of course, the best of all!

So, yeah, your spouse whips up a damn good sambar and do you just say, "Wow! This is good?" Come on, what sort of praise is THAT? So, of course, you have to say, "This is better than my mother's sambar" and...well...your SPOUSE may be pleased but your mother...! AND, if you are really really messed up (Or, as they say, if Saturn is controlling your tongue) you'd say, "This is the BEST sambar I have ever tasted," and invite the wrath of the entire lot of cooks in your family!

And so it goes! Virat Kohli cannot just be a great batsman; he HAS to be either a better batsman than Sachin OR the best batsman ever. (What's that technical term? Ah! Greatest of all times - GOAT! Though, when a different person is a GOAT depending almost on the day of the week...) Dhoni cannot just be a great captain, he has got to be a better captain than Ganguly if not the best ever! And the battle rages all over social media thereafter!

It seems like some sort of curse that people cannot praise someone without pulling down someone else. If not pulling down EVERYONE else! Reminds me of what they say about the gunfighters of the West. Apparently, people used to talk of who was the best, who would kill who if they fought each other, and so on and so on...till they created the situation where the twain met and one died. It's not that they are bloodthirsty, it's just that they HAVE to argue and it never crosses their pea-sized brains that a man has to die to prove them right...or wrong!

Comes to praise, 'good' is good, 'better' can get bad and 'best' can get downright ugly!


  1. Human nature is to yearn for that recognition! It sure boosts me when it is "positive", better when"comparative" and "best" when superlative!!
    And then we are advised to praise in public and "coach" in private...
    Expecting to have all these wise advised to be in harmony with each our problem! Who says they are?!!!

    1. Well, when 'better' is 'better than you were yesterday' and 'best' is 'the best that you can be', it's one thing. If it is always in comparison with another person...