Monday, August 8, 2011


I have written several times about the role of language in shaping our perceptions of reality, of the problems that face us, and what we choose to do about them. I want to revisit language today by writing a little bit about the importance of questioning.

With much of this recent debt talk, and "bail outs" of governments and corporate entities in the European Union and the US, I wonder how long we can continue to think that the problems our society are dealing with are superficial - that we're spending too much, that we aren't collecting enough taxes, that interest rates need to be kept lower to encourage borrowing (let alone the ecological problems facing us). I wonder how those that have the power to do something about these problems are actually framing the problems. I wonder if they ever wonder about the problems, "Why?"

The importance of this question cannot be understated. because it leads us down a path of questioning that inevitably leads us to question our morals and ethics, those parts of our mind and spirit that guide our behaviour toward people and place. Such questioning would allow us to stare in the face of our deficiencies and weaknesses, as well as strengths and positives. Indeed, it allows us to gain a fuller understanding of why we're facing the problems we face. If we aren't able to clearly articulate what "the problem" is, how can we have any faith that "the solution" will do anything for us? Will the so-called "solution" just worsen the situation?

And so the question "Why?" plays a powerful role in framing and articulating the problems that face us. It allows us to use language, to construct other questions, to point out alternatives that hopefully take us in directions that are novel and meaningful. The language we use broadens or narrows the scope of our imaginations. It seems that we are being held hostage to a narrowed, myopic imagination. What is needed more than anything else at this point in time then is a broadened imagination, a broadened morality, and more meaningful dialogue regarding the problems that face us.

Each and every one of us uses the question "Why?" in the metaphysical sense all the time. We wonder why we are on this Earth and why life came to be the way it is. And while the metaphysical is fascinating, it is easy to lose ourselves in such thinking. What about this world? Our society? This culture? I think we need a thorough application of "Why?" to the physical consequences of our society and to our daily actions and choices. If we are unwilling to tackle the problem head on, in our individual lives, in our collective lives, the solution is only going to make things worse.

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