CHANGING THE QUESTION
Whenever we approach a situation, there are certain concerns and values we take with us.
Sometimes those concerns and values come from past experiences. Sometimes they come from our families, friends, and faith. Society and the media have questions they’d like us to be asking as well.
Many times, the questions coming from these sources conflict with each other. However, it is
important to pay attention to them and understand what questions are influencing us because they play a part in the outcome of the situation. The voices and assumptions we bring to a situation from our experiences and culture ultimately influence how we will act.
Here are just a few examples of some questions that might be competing for attention in our
1. This is clearly worthwhile. Why doesn’t someone make it happen? Vs.
This is clearly worthwhile. How can I work to help make it happen?
2. Don’t they know how this is how it’s always been? Vs.
How is this new way working or not?
3. Will [fill in the name of someone else] read this and get the message? Vs.
How can I think about this?
4. What’s in it for me? Vs. How will others be served?
Did any of the questions sound familiar? I know I—and I can imagine many others as well—
have faced situations where I have asked myself the first question in the pair. Why doesn’t
someone make this happen? Don’t they know this is how it’s always been? Will they read this
and get the message? What’s in it for me?
This first set of questions comes from a place of personal convenience and self-interest. The
unfortunate side is, these questions also lead to that place—a world of personal convenience and self-interest.
The second set of questions has a more outward focus: How can I work to help make this
happen? How is this new way working or not working? How can I think about this? How will
others be served? These questions look at self-improvement for community interests. These are the questions to lead us to at least consider making the world a better place—and taking an active role in that.
Can you imagine a world that acted in response to the second set of questions? Can you see a
world that acted for the interest of the community and stepped in themselves to make it happen?How amazing would that look? Of course, we have to start somewhere. The world won’t change overnight, but perhaps the small corner of it that we live in can