Questioning the Need for Answers

I fear that one of the biggest obstacles to solving our world’s many problems is that we’ve become a society where, if you don’t have THE answer — and the CORRECT answer — on the first pass, you are labeled ineffective.  You are a failure if you don’t have the answer.

I got to thinking about this after a colleague included the following quote in an email:
“In our society, mainly concerned with production and efficiency, the drama is that our capacity for questioning, still so vivid in early childhood, is very quickly eradicated or pushed aside for the benefit of our capacity for answering.
When a child has a real question, most of the time he is immediately given a stupid answer. In the best cases the educator goes to the dictionary to be sure his answer is accurate. But anyhow unconsciously, if not proudly, he closes the question.
From school to the end of our life it is always necessary to answer. We are compelled to learn how to answer. If we don’t know how to answer, we are just no good. So little by little we become some kind of model machine able-to-answer-to-all-situations with all the necessary blindness as regards its own contradictions.
That kind of answering, whose degree of sophistication may sometimes hide from us its conditioned character, is required by our life. But under its dominating necessity, is it possible to keep alive in ourselves our most authentic and precious capacity, which is questioning?”

~Michel de Salzmann, French philosopher and spiritualist, 1976

We seem to have lost our capacity for curiosity.  This, I assess, is a big problem itself.

Consider where we are.  I mean, REALLY consider the situation we are in as a planet — financially, politically, climatically, and as regards energy:  we have NEVER been here before.

We are in totally new territory.  No one (I repeat, for emphasis, NO ONE) has the answers…. heck, we’re not even clear about what the problems are!  We keep treating the symptoms, nothing’s improving.  H-E-L-L-O!  perhaps we could achieve a bit more if we just stopped demanding answers and instead took the time to explore the issues.

Curiosity is one of man’s most powerful tools.  Our ability to question, to probe, to learn distinguishes us from all other species on the planet.  Imagine what could happen if, for just a few months, everyone stopped trying to Solve these enormous problems (which, by the way, hasn’t been workin’ too well!) and spend that time trying to Understand the problems.  Understand the root causes.  Understand the impact of various solutions.  Understand the impact on human lives.  and most of all, Understand the emotions that are attached to both the problems and the potential solutions.

What might be possible if, for just a while, our leaders took the time to look at the world through the eyes of a child?  Hmm.

In the end, I suggest, we’d have better answers.



Read more articles like this one in: Communication, Leadership, Meaning

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