To Question, or Not to Question, That is the Question!

Life is a mystery; our presence is a mystery and it is highly unlikely that we will ever in one lifetime find all the answers.  Indeed, because the universe continues to expand all of the time, the mystery deepens and, so, in many ways will always remain elusive – somewhat like the search for one’s own soul, one’s deep emotional self.  Is it then better not to question; just live for today and not be concerned about the deeper questions.  In my opinion it is certainly wise to live for today but I do need to question as if I am going to live forever. 

The very fact that a question arises in our minds indicates both a state of not knowing and knowing.  The not knowing is clearly evident but no question could emerge if I already did not have a knowing.  To put it in another way you cannot ask a question unless you know that you do not know.  To decide not to question – consciously or unconsciously – means you are repressing what you do know about not knowing and repressions always block the emergence of the Self and a getting to know and understand the world we live in.

It appears then that the very fact that a question arises indicates, one, that there is a knowing of an unknowing, and, two, a knowing of a possible knowing.  Something is prodding you from the inside, saying ‘there is something here that you need to know’.  When we ignore that inner nudging then personal, interpersonal, societal and spiritual progress is jeopardised.  In a previous column I mentioned that prior to the recession that either top line managers of the banks and other financial institutions and politicians either knew what was going on and did nothing (failed to question) or they did not know what was going on and thereby were not in a mature place to see or question the ‘failures’ that were occurring.  The old saying ‘when good men do nothing evil thrives’ misses an essential point: that ‘good’ (meaning ‘mature’) men will automatically question and know and seek answers when they do not feel competent in their work; they definitely would not turn a blind eye to the recklessness, avarice, greed and narcissism that are now so evident.  

During the Government’s summer recess and bankers’ holidays I do hope that the individuals that were primarily responsible for the economic crisis will take the time to reflect and to ask the ‘how’ and ‘what’ questions: “how was it that we allowed such a major crisis to develop?” and “what are the personal, interpersonal and professional actions that we need to take to remedy the situation?”.  For those who claim that they did not know what was going on, their question is: “how was it that I was not up to the job I was doing?” and “what are the things I need to do to increase my personal, interpersonal and professional maturity?”  Personal maturity is the sine qua non of professional effectiveness.   Recent new revelations in the banks regarding covering up the truth of the level of debt to NAMA does not auger well for the future and some of the decisions of the Government with regard to cutting costs – like respite care for those with intellectually challenged children – are a very real source of concern.  I truly wonder whether the person who devised such a cost cutting has been challenged – questioned – on the insensitivity of his decision and I hope that he has been offered the opportunity to reflect on the source of that heartless decision.  It does not yet seem to have filtered down into the consciousness of those in possession of considerable economic and political power that societal progress and economic prosperity are dependent on mature emotional and social processes.  Money and wealth do not create stability or maturity but transparency, real responsibility, accountability and management that are both head and heart directed do.

The power of a question is that it touches you somewhere within your heart; if it did not touch you, no question would arise.  In the light of what has happened over the last two years – religiously, politically and economically – the absence of questions, worryingly and sadly, indicates heartlessness in the actions of people – mostly men – in the carrying out of their responsibilities.  When no questions are arising then somehow you are stuck, static, not moving and it can take a crisis to get you back on the enquiry trail and, sometimes, even the crisis fails to bring about that desired effect; when it doesn’t – and at the moment it seems very much like that – there are grave reasons to be concerned. 

Dr. Tony Humphreys is a Clinical Psychologist/Author/National and International Speaker.  Books of his relevant to the above column are The Mature Manager, Work and Worth, Take back your Life and the recently published Relationship, Relationship, Relationship, The Heart of a Mature Society.