I am a big fan of questions. Asking good questions --- questions asked with genuine curiosity, rather than just rhetorically –-- is the way we solve problems. With the right questions and a willingness to follow where they lead, we are equipped to keep learning and growing.
As I look over the political landscape this morning (or any morning), listening to the television news and political ads and reading newspapers and blogs, I have come up with five (5) questions I believe can help point us toward some much needed problem solving.
I realize that we live in politically suspicious times. It is difficult to trust that someone, be they politician or commentator, does not have an ulterior partisan agenda to… well, to just about anything. In spite of our understandably suspicious tendencies, I ask that you trust me when I tell you that I believe that in order to solve the problems we face today, everyone is going to have to change. The days of “my side is right and your side is wrong,” or more accurately, “my side is good and your side is evil,” must come to an end. We must do whatever it takes to grow beyond this over-simplified approach to handling highly complex problems.
My five (5) questions are intended to get us thinking in that direction. Here they are:
1.) If you were shown factually that your representative/candidate is inaccurate in what he/she is saying, would you consider changing your position on that particular issue?
2.) If you answered yes to the first question, here is the next one. Are you willing to look for information beyond the political rhetoric and simplified claims being made by your representative to gather more factual information to help you form your own opinion (as opposed to automatically adopting your rep’s opinion)?
3.) Would you be in favor of a political/governing system in which the people’s participation was more about having informed opinions based on factual information, rather than just automatically following (believing) a particular person and/or political party?
4.) If your answer to question 3 is yes, are you willing to do what it takes to become more informed, so that you can insist that your representatives in government explain their positions more thoroughly and debate differences with open mindedness and respect?
5.) If your answer to any of these questions is no, are you aware that if we do not change – individually and collectively – we cannot reasonably expect the system to change? We, the people, are what make up that system.
Admittedly, these questions are, to some degree, rhetorical themselves. They suggest that a system of government in which we, the people, are significantly more informed and more involved, is better than what we have now. But I hope that we all (I sincerely include myself in this challenge) consider the questions carefully and answer with candor. To do so, I believe, will put us face to face with our own reluctance to do our part in solving the biggest political problem of all: an almost total lack of respect for the very people with whom we must collaborate if we want to preserve our nation.