Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Unanswerable Questions

When it comes to answering unanswerable questions, the goal is not to answer definitively, but rather to keep a conversation going. Unanswerable questions are often asked at times of distress. These questions are often engagements into dialogue in disguise and need to be recognized as such. When this is the case, keeping the conversation going is the only way to continue the path toward wholeness and healing toward which the questions beg. 

There are two ways to answer a question. The first, and probably more common way is to answer definitively with authority. This way has the additional feature of effectively ending the conversation. It also creates a stressed duality in that if the authority figure is correct, then dissenting views must be incorrect.

The answer to the question is far less important than the dialogue that results from its asking.  Just because a question is asked does not mean that it can be answered or even that it should be. 

The goal in engaging unanswerable questions (or their twin, questions in which the answer is not necessarily important) is this: Nobody right, nobody wrong. Just loving kindness in community.

Why then, are so many of my friends who should know better so stuck on the first type of answer and unable to get to a point where their answer is much less important than their presence?

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