Thursday, March 24, 2011


My mom will tell you that raising me meant hearing the question "Why?" at least a hundred times a day, sometimes more.  I can annoy anybody with my favorite question.  It's my super power.  if I want to get under the skin of a family member, all I have to do is say the dreaded word.  Curiosity still hasn't killed this cat (in spite of all the people who have told me that it would... of course these were often the people who didn't know how it would kill me when I asked).

My three year old has been giving me a run for my money in the question asking department.  His eight year old brother likes to get into the act from time to time, but he's easier to distract ("Go look it up because I don't know and I want to").  I don't discourage their curiosity.  I encourage it.  Sometimes it annoys me (and I know it annoys teachers and administrators), but often I find that I need to think through some topic better.  My point of view is not perfect and stress can make thought processes grind to halt, which often produces bizarre statements ("Because" is a common one, how is that the answer to any question?).

When somebody states a fact or expresses an opinion, I tend to ask questions.  I want to know why you think what you think and how you know what you know.  If you can't give me an explanation, I pretty much stop listening.  Why should I care about what you think or want to tell me if you can't be bothered to think about it yourself? (See, I can't stop asking questions)  It made me a good student, because I don't buy into things without some thought or research or both.  I'm critical of sources and agendas.

People need to be more self-reflective about what they believe and why.  I'm not being critical of your beliefs for the sake of feeling superior or converting you.  I want to understand, and I want you to understand.  Don't just accept anyone's word about anything.  Ask questions, especially about politics, law, and the news.  Asking questions about the world you exist in is natural.  Changing your stance when you are wrong is mature.  Not being made a fool of is priceless.

I'm writing this today because I keep seeing alarmist news articles and people's panicked responses, but a few questions and a little research would show many of these people that their fears are groundless and that they have been manipulated into behaving in a way counter to their own best interests.  Fear is caused by not knowing what to expect.  A chronic lack of curiosity and critical thinking is allowing people all over the world to be exploited in a multitude of ways from physically to economically to politically.  Question everything, its part of being a living, growing human being.  Next time you are given a set of facts or watch the news, please, ask "Why?"

"The doors of wisdom are never shut,"  -Benjamin Franklin

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