A deficit of questions

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Most pictures that end up in my Facebook news feed are pretty lame. It’s a jumble of half-baked memes, new age crankery, and shallow political content. Usually they fall through the cracks in my memory and are no more remembered than strangers on the sidewalk. This image, however, actually put me on an interesting train of thought.
This post’s title is what my first reaction to this was. The idea that our society has a deficit of questions. There are many things that go unquestioned. Many things that are questioned aren’t questioned thoroughly. American culture and people are considered boisterous and noisy, but in many aspects our culture is one of silence.

If I gave you five minutes, you could probably come up with several questions that are not asked due to a sort of gentleman’s agreement. National political discourse tends to exist on a shaky foundation- what public figures say and do is only justified when many things are off the table.

How do you win a war on terror? How do you prevent terrorism in the long run?

Why do we trade openly with Saudi Arabia, when a 2002 Council on Foreign Relations report (PDF) states that the Gulf States are the biggest financiers for terrorist organizations?

Why do we condemn countries for torture, cracking down on dissent, and election irregularities, when the same could be said of us?

How can we ignore that some of our institutions, like employer-based healthcare, don’t work?

As one of your teachers may have said, there are no bad questions. This isn’t always true, but it seems that for every issue that Americans are outspoken and passionate on, there is another that they ignore or take for granted.

Uncomfortable truths do not go away. If you confront them, they do become less scary and more approachable. Ignoring the truth is not a long-term solution.

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