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The Power of a Good Question


Some people collect comic books, or movie posters, or pez dispensers. I like questions.

Whenever I come across a question that is particularly provocative or surprising, I take note. Some questions are incredibly rare. Some are even dangerous.

How can a question be dangerous? Hundreds of years ago, Galileo was threatened with jail for asking “Does the Earth revolve around the Sun?” Millions of people have been killed over “Don’t we all deserve the same rights?” And “Who controls a woman’s choices about her body?” can still divide a family, or a country.

But even more dangerous are the questions we don’t ask — the ones so potent that saying them aloud would obliterate the structures of power, privilege, and certainty. “Are their needs really less valid than mine?” “Can I think of specific ways in which I’m wrong?” And one of my favorites: “Is it possible my perspective is part of the problem I’m struggling with?”

Questions aren’t very popular today. This is the age of fast answers, of barbed tweets and comment-section sniper fire. It’s so easy online to berate, belittle, and be gone, we barely stop to notice the destruction. Zing! Another winner!

Some people would say that in the face of big challenges, we need bigger answers. I think we need bigger questions, and more people who are willing to recognize that it starts with us, not them, and our willingness to challenge our own assumptions.

When was the last time you questioned yourself?

And is it possible that your own perspective is part of the problem you’re struggling with?

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