People are trained to not talk about the things they should talk about the most. What could be more important to our lives and afterlives than conversations about religion? Or politics? But we cannot talk about these things. Not with the people we love over dinner, which would be the ideal time to talk about very important things with the people that care about us the most. No. We must talk about the food and the weather and the news.
But the news does not talk about these things either! Not really. When has the news talked about God? The existence and nature of God is the most important question ever. But people do not talk about it. What if your idea of God is wrong? Wouldn't that be a very important thing to know? You'll never know if you don't talk about it. And if you are quite certain you are right about God, then you have lost nothing by talking about it. In fact, you should be telling everyone why you are so secure in this question that mankind has struggled with for all history.
And why not talk about politics? People don't talk about politics really. Yes they vocalize over and over which of the two predetermined leaders they support. But they don't talk about whether or not this is really freedom. They rarely talk about policies, or their own ideas for policies. They rarely talk about the political system itself. They never talk about if our government follows or even cares about the constitution. They never talk about the Federalist Papers. They never talk about the founding fathers. They never talk about the Reece Commission.
And the news? Isn't the news talking about politics all the time? Kind of, but they treat it like a sporting event. There were so many graphics and sound effects and advertisements the election was difficult to distinguish from the Superbowl. They do not ask big questions. They only comment over and over like it's a YouTube video or a poker tournament. Then they take the side of their demographic. They tell their viewers what they want to hear so they can keep showing them advertisements.
I want to hear about the founding fathers. How would they feel about America today? The only news stories I have ever read about Benjamin Franklin are claims that his very prescient warning to not trade freedom for security was surely taken out of context and he could not have meant that and surely old Benjamin would wholeheartedly embrace the massive, sophisticated surveillance system and growing authoritarian tendencies of our government. Benjamin's warning is more relevant today than ever! We should talk about him. What else did he try to warn us about? And Lincoln. Didn't Lincoln say something about not letting our nation get divided? Has that happened? If so how did it happen?
How about science? Our scientists and philosophers are busily probing the deepest mysteries of nature and existence right? Not in my experience. Most of them seem to be studying the byzantine federal grant process. Do you even know any professional philosophers? There are not a lot. Even in science very few people are studying the really important questions.
Where did the universe come from? What ever happened to the missing link in evolution? How does consciousness work? Do spirits exist? Where did the moon come from? Where did the water on earth come from? What is inside the earth? How does love work? How does hatred work? What comes after capitalism? Is mind control possible? Is pornography harmful? Why is gravity the only force without an inverse? How does hypnotism work? Is peer review squelching creativity? How does anesthesia work? What is Toxoplasmosis doing to our brains? Is greed good? Are people bad? Does evil exist? Who is dividing and conquering America? How do dreams work?
A dream is a very strange thing. I have heard of one scientist on the planet, Stephen LaBerge, that studies dreams. His findings are incredible! How are there not more people that want to understand this fascinating, inexplicable phenomenon that affects every person every night?
I also see this problem in people's day to day lives. Am I happy with my relationships? Do I care about my job? Is there a way to stop doing this thing that bothers me? Does anybody even want the product I am making? Is there a higher good than selling things? These questions do not have simple answers. That is why we need to be constantly asking them to ourselves and other people.
Life is not about having the right answer. It is about asking the right questions. Try it, start asking some of the above questions at random to the people in your life. They probably won't have a clear answer, but you will probably have a good conversation. I don't care about your favorite TV show. I don't care about the meme you saw on Reddit. I want to know why the world exists. It's okay if you don't know. I just think we should talk about it more. If Google can answer your questions, you are not asking the right questions.
You should be asking yourself big questions all the time. Maybe you spend time meditating and thinking about nothing. Wouldn't it be better to think about big questions? What is the most important question? That's a great question. How much time in a typical day do you spend just thinking? Is thinking a waste of time?
The forums of Rome were destroyed by barbarians. The forums of the internet have been destroyed by a far deadlier force. Under the seductive guise of security, an army of internet censors and filter bubbles control all discussion online and purge everything interesting and controversial. We are not going to improve ourselves by spending time in the web. We need to think for ourselves. And we need to talk to each other. Not over Zoom. We need to really talk.
Picasso said that computers were useless, because they can only provide answers. I do not think computers are useless. But I am afraid that humans are about to be, if we do not remember how to think, if we do not remember how to ask.