By R. John Quisenberry
Daily, I hear people spread opinions about what is wrong with our society and even our world. Every one of them has answers but never asks real questions. That is not to say that leading questions are not asked to create a false narrative. I am speaking of honest questions.
To me, the only stupid (honest) question is the one you do not ask. You may not ask because you feel foolish due to the nature of the question. You might not ask because you fear that it will reveal things about you that you are scared to share. If you do not ask, you will never grow in important ways.
I feel that questions are the most important part of learning. Without questions, we would not have even the most basic technologies. We would be sitting in the dirt, naked, hungry, and staring blankly at the pretty lights in the sky while most of us died of preventable causes. Even legends and superstitions began as someone asking if there is meaning to natural phenomena.
“What of answers?” some will ask. While I admit that an answer is the end goal of a question, care must be taken in accepting answers to a question that is not known or is supplied to fit the answer. Humanity has been through horrible wars and disasters due to following people who stood up and claimed to have all of the answers. Jim Jones is one such. Adolf Hitler was such a curse on humanity.
People feel unsettled by a question that cannot be readily answered. We are comforted when a matching pair comes our way, and doubly so when we can just sit back and have it handed to us with little to no effort. This is a trap in how we have learned to think. It leads us to follow leaders who do not have our best interests at heart. It is the cheat code to control to least intelligent of us. “Why?” you ask. It is simple. People in our society feel looked down on for not having the answers. So, we try our best to have some way to feel we are smart by having answers. Those who cannot fake it simply follow someone who can fake it and parrot their answers, never bothering to try to seek their own answer because the answer is more important to them than the question.
One of my favorite authors, Douglas Adams, postulated a story of a great endeavor to find the ultimate answer to the question of Life, The Universe, and Everything. They found an answer. The answer was meaningless without the correct question. Thus, a brilliant civilization, spanning multiple dimensions, wasted millions of years of effort and resources to accomplish nothing.
Christians will know the tale of the apostle who was Thomas who was called doubting. Many malign him as being stupid or somehow defective of lacking. Let me ask you then, what was the reply when he asked if his leader was really there? He was given proof and allowed to satisfy the question in his mind. The others undoubtedly had the same question, but it took someone with the courage to look foolish to truly satisfy the need they all had to feel.
My message to you is this, ask questions. Do in private with your favorite search engine, in public with teachers and politicians. Be uncomfortable and make others uncomfortable. Wisdom does not come from complacent plodding. It comes from asking questions and seeking an answer that not only fits, but is not a lie…