If you are expecting me to explain to you Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, you are in need of medical treatment. Please seek the help of a health care professional or refer to Wikipedia for an explanation of THAT theory. Suffice to say that there is something about how time slows down in relation to speed and gravity.
I will instead be explaining the LGS’s Theory of Relativity. This theory similarly predicts that certain physical parameters such as quantity, distance and time may change in relation to one’s cultural upbringing. Don’t understand? I am not surprised. Pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo is often more confusing than the real thing. However, do not despair. All will be clear after you read the following examples of the phenomena.
A story is told about a missionary who was befriending a native tribe in the rainforests of Papua at the beginning of the 20th Century. This tribe live in very small family groups in a very remote part of the forests and have had little contact with other tribes. As the missionary began to earn the trust of the leader of one of the family groups, he also learned much about their culture and their beliefs.
One interesting thing was their counting system. They had words for the quantity or numbers 1 to 5. The word for “5” was “liman”. “Liman liman” was the expression if the number was more than 5 and “liman liman liman” when they wanted to express a very large number.
Another pecularity was the way the different family groups often fought each other over small disputes. The fighting was ritualistic with small group of warriors facing each other at a predetermined location. They would fight with great ferocity but as soon as someone was killed, the fighting would end and one side would accept defeat and pay compensation in form of fruits and livestock. Some others though may later die of their wounds. Usually not more than “liman” were killed. It was a rare fight where “liman liman” were killed.
Nevertheless, the missionary worked amongst the family groups and eventually managed to get them to stop these petty wars and to resolve their differences over a peace table. The family group leaders generally were happy with this change and the missionary became their good friend.
Then there was the outbreak of the First World War. News of the war reached even into this jungle interior. The missionary met with one of the family groups in the jungle and the leader of the group could see that the missionary was sad. He asked the missionary what the problem was and the missionary said that he was sad because men were dying in a great war.
The leader asked if “liman” had been killed. The missionary shook his head. More. The leader kindly said to him, “It is sad that liman liman have died. Too many have died. It is time to offer fruits and pigs and make peace.” The missionary wept. He knew that the old man would never comprehend that millions had died in the war. Even “liman liman liman” was never meant to mean millions.
An American Woman was traveling on her own in Ireland, driving through the countryside just following her whims and fancies. As she drove past some beautiful pastoral country with rolling hills and sheep farms, she came to a fork in the road. The road sign was most peculiar as there was an arrow in each of the two directions but each arrow had the name of the town Donnegal and both said 30 kilometers. She stopped the car and pondered about it. Seeing a farmer nearby in the field, she got out of the car and called out to the farmer.
The farmer came over to the farm wall next to the road and asked how he could be of assistance. She asked if the road sign was correct and that both roads led to Donnegal. The farmer said that was right. She then asked if it was true that it was 30 km to Donnegal on either road. The farmer replied pensively, “Aye, that would be right.”
“Then what is the difference?” she asked curiously.
“Well now, the road on the left would be the longer way.” the farmer replied.
“But both roads are 30 km from Donnegal” she protested.
“Now there, young lady, if you take the left road you will find it is longer than if you took the right road.” the farmer persisted.
The woman did not understand but she thanked him and said goodbye. She then drove on taking the left road. She was very happy to have taken the left road as it went along the coast and there were spectacular views of cliffs and beaches. She stopped in many places along the way to walk and take pictures. As a result, she got into Donnegal after dark and had a little trouble looking for a place to stay.
Eventually, though she found a place and as she was registering she explained to the clerk at the B&B that she was late because she had seen so many wonderful sights along that road. The clerk nodded knowingly and said,” Yes well, you took the long way here, that’s why you were late. If you had taken the other road, it would be much shorter as there is nothing to see.”
Suddenly she understood what the farmer meant.
The American couple had hired a local guide from among the Orang Asli or Aboriginals in the Malaysian jungle to guide them to the Buaya Sangkut waterfall. The couple who had been hiking in the area were told by other travelers about this spectacular waterfall in the jungle but they were also warned that it would be a difficult and long trek.
When they got to the staging point, they could not find anyone who could speak English well but managed to get the guide through a mixture of pointing at maps, gesticulting and a few English words. Nevertheless, they were in high spirits as they followed their guide into the jungle.
At the start of the journey, there were lots of animals and plants to distract them and they did not notice the time passing but after they had been walking for about two hours, the guide allowed them to take a short break along the trail. They asked him how much further and he replied, “Not far now.”
However, another hour passed and they were still on the trail. “How far now?” they asked and the reply was “Not far now”. But the trail seemed to be endless and endlessly going upwards. So they stopped the guide, pointed at their watches and said “How far? How many minutes? Don’t say not far now.”
Now Orang Asli have no use for watches and they measure time by the sun. They do not have the concept of minutes. But as the American couple kept pestering him about how much longer the journey would take, he took out some tobacco and rolled himself a cigarette. He lit the cigarette and said to the couple, “Not far. One smoke away.”
The American couple were relieved. They estimated that it meant that their destination was only about another 15-20 minutes away. They sat there for about five minutes taking a break and when it was finally time to move on, the guide put out the cigarrete with his fingers and put it in his pocket. They would walk for another hour before he took the cigarette out again during a break and smoked it. Again he put it out and kept it in his pocket when it was time to move on. In the end they did reach their waterfall but that “one smoke” turned out to be 3 hours.