Posts Tagged ‘questions’


Last week hanging out with some coworkers in the middle of a heated philosophical conversation someone paused and asked me (paraphrasing), “Why do you ask all these questions?  why ask about what matters all the time?”    In immediate response i simply said, “It’s the strategy I’ve learned that works for me to navigate the world.”

The question stayed with me over the weekend.  While I believe my immediate response was accurate I wanted to better understand why it’s accurate – why is relentlessly asking “what matters? why does this matter? etc” an effective strategy (in my eyes) for navigating the world?

I believe the answer is FREEDOM.  not free will, not free beer.  but freedom of behavioral responses.   Asking big questions opens perspectives and opens up new patterns of behavior.   If one isn’t questioning assumptions and existing mythologies/fictions (and everything is somewhat of a fiction) then it’s hard to develop new strategies should new information come to light.    Also, power is often a result of others knowing something you don’t.   Not developing a question-based strategy gives into that aspect of power and over time it can be very deep conditioned helplessness.

I might even conclude this is the only strategy to achieve actual freedom.

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NYTimes Oped this morning on GDP as a pursuit or measurement of how we’re doing as a country and society is nicely reflective.

We want to be No. 1 — but why, and at what?

Yes.  That is a good question.  And “being number 1” is such a useless statement when talking about anything beyond an amateur sporting event.   When we’re considering what we value and how we teach each other and feed each other chasing these numbers is such as wasteful activity.

I know, we’ve all been taught, if you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it.   I get it.  The measurement thing is fine as long as you question the measurements too and understand that measurements and any model is just a model.

The articles points out how GDP and other measures aren’t great and how other cultures have stopped focusing on being number 1, etc.  But I think the bigger point is here:

But in the midst of the Great Depression, Congress, showing a great deal more intellectual curiosity than it does today

INTELLECTUAL CURIOSITY, as a social value.   We don’t have enough of that.  Our education system, politicians, marketing, media all reflect this.   Perhaps we even have more than we had 200 years ago, but it’s not enough.  Things are more complicated, more connected so we need more than ever.

And be careful before quoting back to me stats on education and literacy and college enrollment and knowledge worker jobs… what we current measure as Intellectual Curiosity is a very limited view.  I won’t propose a measurement myself and I will say the annoying point that you know it when you know it, and most of my interactions out in the world aren’t full of intellectual curiosity.  The movies, shows, news reports, sound bytes, songs, conversations, etc… how many of these things are pushing you, all of us?  is your knowledge job really about uncovering and sharing knowledge?  is facebook, google, twitter really a utility to spread knowledge? engaging in questions?

I don’t have the answer.  I do have questions.

Sounds exactly opposite of our political system.  Might be the problem.

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