After reading a refreshingly honest and challenging article titled Question as a Philosopher; Answer as a Visionary (on the nature of asking the right questions in order to get meaningful answers), it came to me that a big part of the drawback of our rampant society is that we ask too few questions. There’s no time for them. The pace of life is too hectic, and we’re eager to get on with it, so we do, omitting key details, such as what, who, when, where, how, why, and which.
We do this to our detriment. Questions are the keys to meaning and insight. Asking for information, clarification and elaboration sets the foundations on which we may build solid arguments. Knowing who the other persons are and what they do helps us tell them who we are and what we do in turn. Telling them what we want and why we want it enables them to figure out whether they share our perspective or not. It creates a conversation, whereby people con-verse with each other rather than recite monologs and mantras. Fail to establish these basic facts from the get go and the conversation goes round and round in circles.
Here’s a clip from Alice In Wonderland (1951) to illustrate the example…
Asking ourselves who others are is of course only part of the story. We also need to ask ourselves who we are, what we are doing, why we are doing it and to what avail.
Answering these questions usually reveals details about where we’re coming from, where we are, at any given moment, and where we’re headed. We enable ourselves to become better at some things and enjoy them more. Or we realize that we don’t really like our situation, prompting ourselves to take matters in our own hands and change course. So long as we put ourselves under observation every now and then, we can’t lose ourselves.
Here’s My Dinner With Andre (1981), a film that captures the need for questioning the world…
Then there’s the other extreme, where all one does is ask questions: inquire, second-guess, doubt, and do nothing. No direction or velocity, no reason or purpose other than asking for the sake of asking. Never acting on it. Or acting on it in a way that undermines what was done.
Such is the case in Synecdoche, New York (2008)…
Other times we get an answer that’s too blunt and overly forthcoming. Truth and honesty sometimes have a way of striking like a ton of bricks, as in the case of
Scrubs – My Bed Banter & Beyond (2002)…
At The End Of The Day
Asking the right questions is not easy. We often get carried away, drifting and falling into emotional tangents, biases and other dead ends. We ask questions that push the other person down their own tangents and dead ends, too, leading them nowhere.
But sometimes we get it right and ask what we need to ask.
When we do, we find solutions.
Kirk Douglas as Jonathan Shields and Barry Sullivan as Fred Amiel in The Bad And The Beautiful (1952)…
Sometimes we find pearls, precious gems we didn’t know were there. At the same time we expose those who are perfectly willing to accept things as they’ve been handed down to them, revealing them for what they are: idle minds and petty tyrants.
Here’s a classic: Inherit The Wind (1960)
But a word to the wise: if you have already screwed up, getting to the bottom of things will be one hell of a drag.
Take The Hangover (2009)…
So, What Now?
A wise man named Socrates once said, the unexamined life is not worth living. The Gospels say, seek and you will find. And a friend of mine says, deal with it. They are all right.