in Personal Reflections

Hang a Question Mark

Nature has no broken status quo because the moment the status quo breaks down, nature adapts. When the status quo stops working, nature takes action and changes to maintain its harmonious existence.

Humans have the ability to adapt as well, but our intelligence — our ability to ask ‘Why?’ — also gives us the ability to resist adapting. Unlike nature, we can maintain a status quo even if that means causing harm to ourselves, our family, and our environment.

When something is accepted as-is, its flaws, no matter how great, are irrelevant. The status quo is the status quo because it’s not questioned. This can be — and usually is in the long-run — disastrous.

If no one ever challenged the status quo of wheel design thousands of years ago, we’d still be rolling around on stone tires today.

If no one challenges the wasteful and irresponsible culture that exists today, we will have a future human species diseased with distrust, living on a planet depleted of resources.

The gift of curiosity and intelligence comes with a responsibility to adapt and to look towards the future. It comes with the responsibility to determine when the status quo is broken and when it needs to change.

Accepting things as they are now ignores the one thing that makes us all human: the ability to hang a question mark on the status quo and ask, ‘Why?’

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  1. Indeed! Asking questions is an ability I sometimes take for granted. On days where I am more mindful and aware, I find myself asking more questions which in turn connects me even more to the world around me. feeling connected helps me feel responsible for our planet and for people. It’s a wonderful domino situation. Thank you for this today.
    Tali

    • Thank you, Tali! You make a great point that asking questions connects us to the world around us.

      If we just accept things as-is, it’s easy to become disconnected from reality and live inside a box. But as soon as we start questioning the way things are, we start expanding our consciousness and reaching beyond the walls we once thought held us in. :)

  2. Great reminder, Raam. We take the ability to ask questions for granted, and they can also keep us from flowing into our life the way it was meant to be lived. We become our own worst enemy.

    • Agreed, Bryan! We need to be grateful for our ability to ask questions. Taking our ability to ask questions for granted really works against everything it means to be human. It takes all our potential to grow and evolve and throws it down the drain.

  3. As an optimist, I tend to look for the positive, but are we not already living in a world diseased with distrust and depleted of resource? Questioning the status quo will only stop it from getting worse. At the root of it is perhaps the basic human trait of inertia and pleasure. If it feels good, it must be good, and if nothing needs to be done today, we will let tomorrow worry about it. Congratulations, Raam, for putting this so well. If each of us can start questioning our own indifference, it will be a great start.

    • You make a great point, Subhorup. We need to do more than simply question the status quo, we need to change it. We need to recognize how our actions affect (and influence!) tomorrow. I don’t think we need to suffer and make huge sacrifices for tomorrow, but we shouldn’t let ourselves get swept away by the current of samsara and search only for pleasure.

      We need to be responsible. Responsible for being human. Responsible for being alive.

  4. Always been a “Why” girl. It is very meta at times–I asked “Why do I ask so many Why? questions in the morning, particularly?” today. :)

    The answer? Sleep is the thing which powers reorganizing & processing capabilities leading to renewed curiosity with the new neural network.

    It was very surreal watching my Twitter stream evenly divide between c/Curiosity tweets & normal business/marketing tweets this weekend. It makes you realize how very little really matters…but you’ve experienced that already, many dozens of times over. :)

    There’s definitely quite a bit broken in our systems of interrelating & exchanging ideas. A lot of pride & territorial machismo where sharing is considered weak or socialist. If you’ve ever read “Space & Dust” by Asimov, there’s a section in there that talks about psycho probing out anxiety, only he didn’t realize how deeply the anxiety ran in Earthmen & wiped almost all of his memories.

    How do we convince our brains that there IS nothing to fear if we “only” take our fair share? Creating a foundation of physical & emotional safety in the most power hungry might do more to right inequalities than #OWS.

    In which culture(s) are men encouraged to be less stalwart warriors & more cooperative in the presence of the opposite sex & same? If one exists, what model are they using, & how could we begin teaching it many times over?

    I’d rather not choke my questions, but I’ll kindly stop them in this reply. Yeah. That WAS a really bad pun based on your title. :D

    • Are you referring to Asimov’s 1951 book, The Stars, Like Dust? I haven’t read it, but I’ll add it to my reading list!

      I like what you said about creating a foundation of physical and emotional safety, but I’d add that we need to do that for everyone, not just the most power hungry.

      We need to create a culture where inequality isn’t a social constant and that won’t happen until we shift our focus away from things that maintain inequality: religion, status, money, gender, etc.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Jeanie! :)

  5. I can’t get over how refreshing your posts are: we need more wisdom from the likes of you in this world, now, more than ever.
    Thank you.