I came of age in the 60’s. I know I’m dating myself, but I’m told that with age comes wisdom. Back then there was a slogan that basically said “don’t trust anyone over thirty”. As a matter of fact there was a movie out then called Logan’s Run that was based on that premise. That slogan was great until the people saying it turned thirty. Ironically the very people that started the slogan are now our movers and shakers and expect us to believe everything they say, hook, line, and sinker.
I was raised to never question authority. I was to never question my elders (elder being anybody 30 seconds older than me.) I was to do what I was told, not follow my leader’s example. Many of us were raised with this principle. Unfortunately it was a bad one. We are in the fix we are now because not enough of us questioned our leaders. There haven’t been enough of us using our minds to analyze and follow the logic or illogic of what our leaders are doing for us and to us over the past four decades. We collectively dropped the ball. We blindly trusted too much. We questioned too little.
While working at a major Midwestern University I was in a meeting with a client and the editor overseeing the project. In the middle of the meeting the editor assured the client that my asking “a lot of questions” really was a benefit not a negative. That she at first was put off by my questions then realized that it was for the good of the project. I sat there a little dazed and confused. How could asking questions to make sure I had the information I needed to do a great job for my client be a negative? Well, apparently in the academic, political and corporate world it is. Our leaders want us to mindlessly do what we are told without question. It makes their life much easier. Reminds you more of a dictatorship than a democracy doesn’t it?
Men and women who constantly questioned authority built this country. From asking why we were being taxed without representation to why blacks couldn’t eat at a lunch counter or ride in the front of a bus, we have been a nation of question askers, until recently. Lately we have failed to not only ask questions but to ask them so loudly that they can’t be ignored and must be answered. Let’s start with, “How can we change this mess we’re in?”
I challenge all of us to question any authority in our lives. Not with disrespect or as an attack, but rather in the spirit of understanding what is happening to us. Without information we as individuals cannot make good decisions. Without information we can’t do our jobs effectively. Think of how many foreclosures would have been averted had the borrowers questioned deals that were too good to be true. Common sense tells us you can’t buy a half-million dollar home on $50,000 a year. Yet, many bought into deals that were “sold” to them when in the end the fine print told the truth.
We need to put down the TV remote and research, educate, and open our minds to new ways of thinking so we can solve problems that have been going on for years. Now is not the time to remain with the status quo but to ask why we can’t do things differently. Why can’t we have a great economy? Why can’t small businesses save us? Why can’t we have the best healthcare in the world? We can no longer accept the answer, “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” We need new ways of doing things in every aspect of our society. We need to look at everything with fresh, wide-open eyes and question, question, question.
From our President down to our neighbor we need to hold each other accountable for our ideas. We need to test each other’s beliefs and methods, no matter if they’re conservative or liberal, to prove them good or bad. When you hear someone say something totally outrageous, respectfully ask him or her why he or she believes that way. By questioning we can help each other shape and craft our beliefs and make them stronger by eliminating the false concepts and ideas. By questioning we can make each other stop and think. We can no longer afford to sit idly by and let things just happen to us. We can no longer afford to let talk radio think for us. We need to take an active part in everything that affects us. Our survival depends on it.