Questions without answers

Sunday Morning Musings:  Last posting I mentioned an adage that I prefer to use: my questions require my answers.   I have to admit that a big caution is always attached.  There is no doubt in my mind that certain dangers can accompany this idea.  At first glance answering one’s own questions can create a sense of narcissism – it doesn’t matter what other people think – I have my own answers.

However, what I mean is not that simple. By suggesting that we each hold our own answers is that first of all we must truly search all around us for answers.  We seek the expertise and wisdom of others.  In our searching we have to have a reasoned and a discerned response.  I try to get my wise ideas into a concise form (like a creed is to a fuller statement of faith). One adage I quote for our Spirit Café gatherings is:  “each of us is wise, but together we are wiser”.   I am also sure that the same idea is true in the court room where lawyers often work on the premise that one should never ask a question to which one doesn’t already know the answer. Lawyers don’t simply make up the answers, they do their research first, and the same is true of anyone seeking answers – do the homework.

Another caution, although not to be feared, is the sense that asking questions can make one feel vulnerable.  Having to admit to someone else that we don’t know something can create the feeling that we are less than we appear or want others to think of us.  Many years ago when I was training to become an elementary school teacher one of my wise professors told the class of perspective teachers that when a student asked for help it didn’t mean the teacher should act as if he or she knew everything.  Rather it was more important to suggest that they could search together.  Vulnerability was not a negative virtue but a normal one.

It seems as if I am stringing together a lot of adages here.   And so I am. But the idea is that when we are searching for answers to important questions, we need to find our own answers.  If I want to know more about the one I call God, or what the Bible says, I can and should seek advice from others, but in the end I have the responsibility to “think” for myself.  That means that I have don’t any right to tell others they are wrong, nor does it mean that just because someone tells me believe what I am told and all will be okay.  Each of us is on a journey of discovery as we travel through life.  We should never stop seeking.

Another adage I like to use is the one that says “if I have all the answers, then I have not asked all the questions”.   There is no limit to our questions.  Sometimes the answers will not necessarily be what we had expected, but that is okay.  Hopefully, the questions we ask will leave us with a sense of wonder and mystery leading to more questions (and more answers).   It is important for us all when to be reminded often of the words of Bertrand Russell who said:  “In all affairs, it is a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted”.

No one has all the answers.  But that doesn’t mean we stop asking the questions knowing that it is okay to accept the fact that no all questions need to be answered.


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