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Saturday, November 1, 2014

What do we do with Questions without Answers: A brief History of Questions. Really?


It is funny that as I was thinking about writing this, I could only think of beginning it with
“And when in the course of Human Events…”

Because that is what this is about. The direction we have chosen, the path we follow, where we are today. Where we find ourselves today compared to where we were.

We were in a cave.

 We were in a small group of the huddled or maybe a village and we lived there and decisions were made by the individual with the longest beard or sharpest stick or by the village’s chieftain we feared most. But no matter if we found ourselves in the village or in the huddle, importantly, our questions had answers.

 

And if questions did not have answers, we were quick to turn to the wise men or the high priest and seek (we were much more prone to seeking then, whereas now we just flip the channel) for the answer for the questions we were unable to answer. The answer could have simply arisen from a pattern that surrounded us but only recognized by the Wise ones that insisted NOW is the time to plant, or hunt or gather.

And if there were no answers, answers made created for us, to quell our fear, the brighten the darkness and lift our burden of doubt. Belief was created and religion was born.

There were a myriad of gods and goddesses that floated across the sky, sat silent in the mountain side or lay low just beneath the surface of the water. And for those questions for which we could not create a logical answer, we turned to the gods. Sometimes those in charge made more gods, sometimes they imagined fewer. At some point the god became God and we gave him a capital letter in his or her name and we learned to bow. A god emerged in some form for some specific purposeand later there came pictographs and testaments and the Gods had adventures and a life much like our own and they gave us divine words to guide us along a frequently rocky road that was getting harder to find and hard to travel once we got there.

They answered the question we could not.

And our number grew. And our villages grew into towns and states and countries and eventually as our numbers grew, the lands that we wandered shrunk. The entire Earth shrunk and we squeezed in tighter and tighter and we made high rise apartment buildings and sat on top of each other (of course with the best among us on top) And we lived in a closer proximity and there were more questions. More questions meant more codification, it meant laws and rules and longer testaments. Complexities were abundant. Rituals became diversions. It meant more powerful Gods and with more powerful Gods came naturally more powerful rulers and again our questions were answered.

And we knelt in reverence because our questions were answered.

We knelt for some people as well, but they said they knew God and as long as the questions were answered we lay prone and knelt and gave them some of our wheat and goats and gold and our fairest mates and whatever they wanted. And the price to answer our questions went up and they called it “to tithe” or “to tax!” Later even Tax got it’s own capital and codifications  And the books of Codifications and Taxes both acquired capitals and grew longer and longer and we just knew they were too long to read or make sense of and some the answers were still accepted with little question.

And all was well and good and we had questions and we had answers and dissent was slight.

Until some bastard looked up in the night sky and pondered. Pondering was more popular then, whereas now it just appears we are being lazy. And these early ponderers told us that we had the skies wrong and the patterns changed and with that, the gods were weakened and dissolved and the question continued to surface at a faster pace now. And the rulers strengthened their resolve about the answers and direct lines with the remaining gods were strengthened.

 And we made celebrities. They didn’t give us answers but we worshipped them and while we drooled and stared at them starry-eyed much like the early ponderers. We forgot the question and just wanted to be them. We wanted their stuff

Until one day someone jokingly suggested

“Could God make a rock so large that he couldn’t lift it?”


And yes didn’t work and no didn’t work and our heads spun. And the rulers stepped away and took longer vacations or pilgrimages or journeyed deep into the desert beyond the reach of cell towers, because there was a question for which there was no answer.

And so it began.


We found questions that could not be answered. People that knew of words, invented ones and called them enigmas and hypothetical and cursed those that asked the question in the first place and jailed them or burnt down their villages. It shattered the order and the rulers lost control and the Gods lost power and the questions went unanswered.

And there were divisions. Complications. Confusions and bricks were thrown. Glass was invented and then thrown as well. Divisions caused things to be broken and thrown.

New questions appeared on the horizon:
Is Abortion murder? Does a woman have a choice? If smoking pot does me less damage than smoking the cigarettes and drinking the alcohol the rulers make easy for me to find, is it wrong? Is mine better than yours? College or a trade? Be a Democrat or a Republican? Long or thick or just big?

Are Muslims just bad and have no place here and it is OK to just get rid of all of them. The chunk of dirt kept getting smaller and smaller and we  were rapidly running out of space to co-exist, because we both can’t have the right answer.

Is murder OK in some cases?

And the question with no answers grew in number and the wars that were fought on the streets and on the floors where the rulers ruled and in the houses we built for the Gods grew fiercer and more violent. And it was that the ONLY way to get the answer was to kill or bomb or gas or infect everyone that disagreed with one group’s answer. Talk Shows became the norm. And some Ruler’s got stronger and some grew weaker and the Asker’s of the Question grew more brazen. And those that felt that their answer was THE ANSWER tried to make us all believe in their truth, even if they had to kill us.

We had collectively reached a place in our social evolution where we could, with certainty, with anonymity, enforce our answers to questions to which there were no answer. We outgrew our ability to answer all questions, but like an Alcoholic, like a Junkie, we kept drinking until be were blind and we kept punching holes in our arms until it didn't really matter and we kept asking questions without answer.

And somewhere, it became that our way was the right way. We killed some Rulers that disagreed with us. We mocked some Gods that did not provide us with the answer that we knew was right. Our answer was the right answer to the question and if you disagree, we will kill you or jail you or damn you or at least vote you out of Rule office and catch you with a Prostitute.

Prostitutes didn’t have the answers, but then many Prostitutes didn’t have the question either. They just knew how to do what we had done while we lived huddled in the cave or wandered into a village. Many Sex Workers knew how to make us forget the question and the insatiable need for an answer and most of the time, did less damage to our bodies than alcohol or a nasty injection.

So do we always have an answer? I think not? Is it possible to ask a question that has no answer? Well, maybe yes and maybe no.

If we ask a question where the answer will impact all of us on this chunk of dirt hurtling through space, then the answer is most likely a resounding no.

If we ask a question that will satisfy our individual spirit that will let us sleep through the night and taste what food is really supposed to taste like and to love and dance with abandon and will take that squinchy look off of our face, then the answer is probably yes.

So if you finish this monologue and you are blessed with the ability to answer the unanswerable like “What is Love?” or “What will happen tomorrow” or "Just what does it all mean" or “Could God make a rock so large that he couldn’t lift it?” with any certainty that most everyone will accept, then just kill those that disagree or find them an island and give them cable.

And you will have a new answer to a question you have not ever asked yet.

Maybe that is what we should do with those Muslims, and then another island for those that want an abortion and an island for people whose enjoy pot and a new island for everyone that fails to agree with your answer. Because in the course of Human events, we will eventually reach a point where we all die since we all disagreed and then the course of human events would end and some other course of event would have to take its place.

Like when Marmosets or Dolphins would remain and eventually they would create a document that began "...and in the course of Marmoset events" (etc...) so if the Aliens ever did show up, they will either find a bunch of bones, or a bunch of islands…

Don’t forget the cable.