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 to build 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 frustrating circles.
Alice In Wonderland (1951)
Asking ourselves who others are is, of course, part of the story. We also need to ask ourselves who we are, what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and to what avail.
Answering these questions reveals details about where we’re coming from, where we are, 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 keep putting ourselves under observation every now and then, we can’t lose ourselves.
My Dinner With Andre (1981)
Then, of course, 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.
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
Other times we get an answer that’s too blunt and forthcoming. Truth and honesty sometimes have a way of striking like a ton of bricks.
Scrubs – My Bed Banter & Beyond (2002)
At The End Of The Day…
Asking the right questions isn’t easy. We get carried away, drifting and falling into emotional tangents, biases and other dead ends. We ask questions that push the other person down his or her own tangents and dead ends in turn, leading them (us) nowhere.
But sometimes we get it right and ask what we need to ask.
When we do, we find solutions.
The Bad And The Beautiful (1952)
Sometimes we find pearls, precious gems we never knew were there. At the same time we expose the persons who are perfectly happy to accept things as they’ve been handed down to them, revealing them for what they are: idle minds and petty tyrants.
Inherit The Wind (1960)
But a word to the wise: if you’ve already screwed up, getting to the bottom of things will be one hell of a drag.
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’re all right!