When I was in school, the highest premium was paid the kid who had the "right answers." Having the right answers got kids top grades, parental approval, peer group envy and often, loneliness. Most children were taught how to "be right" and "do the right thing." Very few were taught how to "be loved" and "be a loved person." If you had the choice, would you rather be right or loved? Not an easy question.
I believe the old adage: "A person learns more and more about less and less, until he knows everything about nothing…then they give him an academic degree." Isn’t it time we so-called "experts" give up knowing the answers and, in our full ignorance, begin asking some important questions?
There are many "core questions," which in our focused effort to know all the right answers, fail to be asked. Perhaps the top grades should go to those children who ask the "most valuable questions." Questions usually precede answers, focus our attention and guide our development.
Some psychological questions of top priority that need to be asked by thoughtful people include:
Do I want to live or die? I am responsible for my life and it isn’t all that difficult to engage in self-defeating behavior or snuff it out completely.
Who am I really? Am I the genuine person I want to be, and if not, what am I doing to grow into that person?
Do I want my neighbor to live too? We know people never become fully human in isolation from other human beings.
What are my needs that need to be addressed in order to be happy? We all have needs. If we are ignorant of our own, we remain totally dependent on others to figure them out and provide for us. That may be good child-like functioning, but it is not healthy adult behavior.
What in life is worth actively caring about? We all have energy. We all direct that energy in caring about something or someone. What or whom is really "worth it?"
To what or whom do I give priority in my life? No matter how long we live, we cannot do everything there is to do, experience everything there is to experience or see everything there is to see. We need to prioritize.
How can I reach for and contact others who differ from me in their thoughts, values and lifestyles? If ever this world needed unifying contact with its earthly inhabitants…if ever the inhabitants ever needed contact with one another…the time is now!
What can I do to keep this planet (our home) alive and well? If the ocean dies from pollution, if we blow up the earth, if we warm the atmosphere too much, if we populate the world beyond its capacity to sustain human life, we will most certainly vanish as a species. The earth doesn’t need us.
How can I become less defensive and invite others to trust me and themselves? Without trust, we become fearful. Fear breeds defensiveness. Over time, defensiveness is almost always self-defeating. WE build walls to keep others out and simultaneously imprison ourselves.
How can I learn to fully laugh, cry, listen, speak and enjoy my being alive? Ultimately, life is all we ever really have. We need to know how to become excited about it, use it and enjoy it to the fullest.
Perhaps in our ignorance and in our need to be "right," we need to focus on these (and more) core questions. If we fail to ask them and discover their answers, we might just fail to survive.