Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Question

I love asking and answering deep questions. For example, last night I asked my parents, "If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?" My choice would be soup. Dad answered pasta, and mom hasn't decided yet. Yes, these are the kind of heady questions I love to kick around. Just kidding.

But in all seriousness, I have recently realized the importance of asking questions both of ones' self and of others. Asking questions of others is a good way to get to know a person and to think about topics from that person's point of view. One person who greatly valued the art of asking questions was Socrates. He asked people questions to get them to see their illogical thinking and to lead them to right thinking. I wish I had more of this Socratic skill.

Even without that heightened of an ability though, I do want to be a person who asks good questions of others and sincerely listens to their answers. I also want to be a person who takes questions seriously and answers them with integrity only after thinking through my response.

One question I often get asked both in China and in America is why I decided to go to China in the first place. I wish I could say that I answer this question in the same way each time I'm asked, but I don't. It seems I have to tailor this answer depending on who is asking it and the social environment around the question. This fact makes me disgusted with myself. A person of integrity would answer this question the same way each time.

What is it saying about my lack of integrity that I have to change my answer according to the situation? I explain away my "variety" of answers by claiming that I don't want to make people feel uncomfortable or I don't want to get into trouble with the law (both excuses which seem valid to me.) Or, I tell myself that there are several influencing factors that lead me to China and therefore, I can just conveniently chose the factor that fits the situation and is most palatable to the person asking the question.

But all of these excuses feel like just that, excuses. From here on out, I want to be committed to integrity in answering questions. And if I can't give an answer brimming with integrity, then I will choose silence. . . and soup.

1 comment:

Norman & Joyce said...

Have you seen the movie "Finding Forrester"? Make sure that your questions are soup questions (or not).