I have fashioned myself into a colossal pain in the ass for as long as I can remember living this belief. Teachers, bosses, friends, family, complete strangers, distant world leaders, passing motorists, innocent bystanders, circus performers, domesticated animals, leafy greens – you name it – have been subjected to my less than charming habit of not taking things at face value. Show me authority and I will suspect it. Present me with an absolute and I will doubt it. Reveal a trend and I will dissect it. Show me black and I will wonder aloud who rendered the light absent.
It can come off as obnoxious, I know. I have been alerted to this fact.
Nevertheless, I think it is important.
I believe that the greatest ways to learn are to just pay attention and ask the most important question – ‘why?’
Ever wonder why the news is reported the way it is? Ever thought about why the people that we’ve elected have someone else writing their speeches? How about why there are so many sequels in movies? Or about who is choosing your kid’s textbooks? Or about where your food comes from? I have and I think these kinds of questions are essential to a free thinking society. Further, I think the ability to ask these kinds of questions is paramount to the existence of a free society itself.
I believe that we can grow both individually and collectively from being very inquisitive and a little skeptical. Conversely, without those qualities we will perish, both intellectually and spiritually.
Difficult? Certainly. Annoying? Maybe, but I take it pretty seriously. And maybe I let my questions linger a little too long in places that don’t really need my inquisition. Maybe I was just wasting my time (and yours) with my post on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, for example. But, to me, the reason that stupid story has stayed for this long in our cultural underwear is because no one bothered to ask ‘why’. It leaves me wondering what else has been stashed in our shorts just because we’ve been lazy and inattentive.
And so it continues.
I have tried to mellow over the years. I like to think I have become a little more selective with my questions and a little less vitriolic with my approach, but I’m sure there are those who are giggling at that assertion. Regardless, I have tried.
Then I became a father. And the infinite universe showed me its infinite sense of humor.
Like any parent, I want the best for my children. To that end, my stance on questioning everything was steeled and I not only ramped up my own global inquiry but began instilling (brainwashing?) my beliefs in my two future warriors for justice and insight even before they could talk.
Dr. Frankenstein ain’t got nothin’ on me.
While Lemon is, at two and a half, still in the process of developing her interrogation technique, Bug is the most questioning little ball of ‘why?’ ever to don a leotard. The proverbial ‘why is the sky blue?’ does not suffice – she must then know why it is called a sky, what kind of blue it is, what it is called when it is not blue, why blue starts with ‘b’, what ‘b’ starts with, what else is in the sky, what the sky is made out of and why dogs sniff other dog’s butts.
She asks questions when no one is around to answer. She asks questions that she knows the answers to, presumably just to hone her craft. She asks questions about asking questions (“Daddy, why did I ask you that?”). If I don’t answer quick enough she will machine gun me with “whydaddywhydaddywhydaddywhydaddy”. If my answers don’t satisfy, she will rephrase and ask again. I’m pretty sure I once heard her ask the dog if she could treat me as a hostile witness.
Obviously, I believe this skill that she has been polishing since uttering her first monosyllabic grunt will serve her well in her life. Of course, I have contributed to its development and don’t want to stifle this magnificently inquisitive mind. I hope for her that she continues to think and to ask, regardless of the cranium exploding quantity of questions.
I mean, I believe in questioning everything…..but, Jesus.