By Qin Sun Stubis
(originally published in The Santa Monica Star)
We are inquisitive creatures, born to ask questions. We are perpetually curious about things around us, be they trivial or vital. Getting answers helps us understand ourselves and our environment, giving us a sense of control over our lives so we can live more comfortably.
When we are little and our world is small, our questions are mostly centered around simple matters, like “What’s this?” or “Why can’t I do that?” As we grow and our world expands, our questions get more complex.
How will the financial markets fare this year? When will the Ebola epidemic end? Who will become the next American president? We live in a world with endless and ever more challenging questions, many of which we have little knowledge about, and they cause a lot of uncertainty in our lives.
In some ways, every unanswered question and unresolved issue turns into an unknown element in our environment. Having too many of them makes us uncomfortable, creating fear and concern. Luckily for us these days, if we so choose, we can find an expert specialized in almost anything, from politics to nutrition, disease control, snow-flakes, galaxies, and aliens. These experts may not know it all, but they surely know a lot more than we do in their special area.
Undeniably these days, almost everyone has to rely on everyone else’s specialized knowledge to live and cope. When we get sick, we go to a doctor. When we don’t know what to do with our money, we find a financial planner. And, if our children need help with their homework, we call a tutor.
Similarly, if something boggles our mind, we have the liberty to open a book, turn on the television, roam the Internet, or call someone we think may have an answer. Through ever increasing and more readily accessible communications channels, we listen, we read, we absorb, and we analyze, trying to untangle perplexing problems and figure out things around us.
Harvested from millions of minds and accumulated over the centuries, our world is rich in information. It’s up to us to decide what we want to learn. The process of composing questions, seeking knowledge, and deriving answers has become a pivotal part of our everyday life. Admit it or not, we’re living ever more collectively, at least in our intellectual world.
As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one. In this new age of science and technology, many heads are even better than two.
You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A longtime columnist of ours, Qin lives in Bethesda, MD.