Growing up, I was an inquisitive kid. I asked a lot of questions. “Daddy, why are those women wearing black clothes?”, “Why are we entering a bus? Why not our own car?”, “What is the name of that thing? There, that thing there?”, “How does one knot a tie? I want to do it myself.” And I’d go on and on, from one question to the next. I could only imagine how bothersome I was then to my parents. But thankfully, they didn’t shut me up. They patiently provided answers, in as simple a form as possible, that my naive mind could grab. Unknown to them, they were nurturing a mind. A rational mind. That would not just accept the status quo, and swallow everything – hook, line and sinker. But one, that would ask the right questions and make the world a better place.
Many folks these days do not ask meaningful questions. They don’t know specific names of people, things, places, methods; “Give me that thing, that yellow thing.” they would say. They don’t know how to do many everyday tasks; “Is it everything someone will know how to do?” they would demand. They don’t know why they do what they do; “Why must I know why? Everybody does it, don’t they?” they would ask. But when you check their lives, it is nothing more than average. They are not advancing, but rather retrogressing.
I was speaking with some youths in a suburban region of recent. They didn’t know who Nigeria’s colonial masters were. I was shocked. So I asked if they knew what the Independence day we celebrate on October 1st stood for. They didn’t. I was the more shocked. I didn’t know where to start from. I left wondering, “What were they taught at home? Exactly what did their parents discuss at home? So they couldn’t even chip in a little history about Nigeria? So these youths didn’t even as kids wonder why they had to learn English in school?”
Pick a Secondary School Student at random and ask him or her, “Why are you going to school?” Many will respond, “To learn to read and write.” “And so, why must you learn to read and write? To what end?” You’ll find them staring at you dumbfounded. Then some seemly smart ones may say, “Because my parents want me to read and write.” What an appalling state! That’s why a lot of graduates don’t have a job. And many who do, are making little or no impact in their societies. They did not know why they went to school. It was just the status quo.
To have a rational mind, three prevalent questions must be asked in every situation of life. What. How. Why. The question “What” helps with identity, recognition, characterisation. It is the starting point. It is the foundation block. The question “How” helps with process and the manner with which things are done. It deals with methodology. It breaks things into steps. The question “Why” helps with purpose. It tells the reason behind what is done, or what exist. It is the most important. If left unanswered, will result in the churning out of humans, that are mere robots.
Our ultimate role model, Jesus, didn’t live an ordinary life on earth because He asked questions. In the gospel according to Luke, the forty-sixth verse of the second chapter, we find Jesus sitting in the midst of doctors of the law, both hearing them and asking questions. Questions that led to Him discovering and fulfilling purpose.
Mary, the betrothed virgin of Joseph, after receiving God’s message through Gabriel of her immaculate conception asked, “How shall this be?” This she asked, seeking understanding of God’s ways. And when she did, she was able to submit to His will, fulfilling purpose.
It’s high time parents trained their kids to have a rational mind. Don’t just tell them what to do, but work them through the process of how to do it. Don’t just let them know how, but also why they need to do it. That way, the child is introduced to purpose from the very beginning. He develops a rational, critical mind; questions the status quo, improving on what is good and jettisoning what is bad; becomes innovative, and leaves the society a better place.
It’s high time employers developed a workforce that does not just accept the routine everyday tasks; employees that would not just say “Yes sir!” or “Yes ma!” to whatever they’re told. But those that would ask pressing questions about what their specific duties are; how they are to effectively execute their tasks, and most importantly, why they’re doing what they do. Questions that would make them re-evaluate the status quo, teasing out what is profitable and what is not, and coming up with innovations that would advance their workplace.
This is unarguable. That every great man is a great thinker. And every great thinker asks questions; meaningful questions. Questions that would not only provide answers to burning needs, but would lead to the emergence of a terrific person, with a rational mind.