For once, this pandemic has forced all of us to be different, to seek answers and only answers on how to confront, control, and get over the dreadful virus. No one seems to be asking questions anymore, but everyone is waiting for a universal answer. All questions about its origin are painfully getting buried with those who unfortunately have succumbed to it. Don’t get me wrong if I may say that the conventional human trait of asking questions seems to have taken a backseat as the virus lurks around. To say that ‘not to question is the question’ does not provide any answer on our collective plight. Humans have always been in the habit of asking questions but rarely does anyone like to be questioned? Check this out! Students quibble on being questioned; teenagers resent probing wards; employees grudge questioning bosses and so on……..because a question creates a situation when otherwise sensible people get temporarily stumped, feeling let down and somewhat insecure of themselves at that moment. The one being questioned can hardly escape being its victim, though.
Given the present scenario, I wonder if we are not being rewired ‘not to ask questions’? No one could be sure, but it may do a world of good for most of us should it were to happen. However, I have learnt that humans have not always been asking questions. Evolutionary biologists contend that humans were not born with this unique ability to ask questions, it was a cognitive add-on during the first millennium of human evolution. And once onto it, there hasn’t been any looking back since then as the psychological vantage to assert supremacy by asking questions gained social currency across all cultures.
Many of you would want to question the evolutionary hypothesis but experience has shown that answers have always pre-existed questions at any time. In fact, I would imagine that it is the presence of ‘answers’ that gives rise to ‘questions’ in the first place. Whether to your satisfaction or not, more than one answer has always been there because a question alone can’t survive. For every ying there ought to be a yang around. It is always two to a tango! So, for any question on the anvil an answer is always discreetly around somewhere, for sure.
If answers are lying scattered all around, should we not be searching for answers only? This is precisely what all of us are currently engaged in, seeking answers to finding a way of living life like never before, as there are not many who would care to address our questions. We all have to find our own answers. Sans questions, life is sure to ease out for teenagers, husbands, employees, bureaucrats and even politicians. The virus seems to be giving us an evolutionary back kick!
Thank the faceless virus for masking us from the vice of asking questions. The only question we will still be asking is ‘how are you’ because it has an answer embedded in it.
(Sudhirendar Sharma is a writer on development issues based in New Delhi, India)