A Grain Of Salt

The power behind questioning in life

Odochi Akwani, Co-Online Editor

Ever wonder why something is the way it is? Maybe it’s something insignificant like “Why do we assume the right side when walking by others?” or maybe it is something big like “Why do we get married?” These all begin with the question, “Why?”
The 1997 book “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz, highlights the theory of the domestication of humans. This theory claims that expectations are set on young children which condition them in the “right” way. With this system of punishment and reward, humans are molded to think in a similar fashion. We essentially domesticate ourselves.
We are raised to think the same based on the culture we grow up in—whether that’s how to format an essay or our understanding of how the Earth came about. However, we are separate individuals. The school system proves difficult for those that don’t fit within the standards when we are graded on the same things in the same manner—disregarding individual talents.
In Ken Robinson’s 2006 TED Talk, Do Schools Kill Creativity?, he questions why we value subjects such as math and science above the arts and humanities. Robinson coins it the “hierarchy of subjects.” The top of this hierarchy formulates the basis for standardized tests (math, science, and language arts). Standardized tests promote invariability from a benchmark set by whom? These tests can be harder for anyone unfamiliar with the experiences mentioned in it. It also dismisses any other interpretation of intelligence. Why haven’t we questioned the effectiveness of our education in ensuring everyone’s success?
Gender roles and gendered items are another aspect of human existence that we often accept without realization. Baby gender reveal announcements many times play on the idea that blue is for boys and pink is for girls—yet colors are just colors. Gender roles aren’t just outdated, but they also fail to recognize masculinity and femininity as a spectrum that is independent of gender identity or biological sex.
I beg us to question—to question what we’ve been taught and what we hear in the news in order to form our own opinions. Are we doing these things because we want to or because that’s what we’re told is the right way?
In addition to our learning habits, we often fall into the same pattern of life: go to college immediately after high school, get a job, get married and have two kids in the typical nuclear family fashion; then, work the same job until we die. When someone attempts to step outside this pattern, we feel sorry for them, confident they won’t make it. However, we must understand that there is no formula for living life. One individual’s journey to success doesn’t define what success means or how it is achieved.
Why not investigate the ideas we are taught instead of complying blindly? When we question, we challenge and create our own independent deductions on topics not proven to be fact. Questions are powerful. They encourage new lines of thought which are essential to our growth as humans.
Our fear of questioning stems from our fear of ridicule and judgment for sharing an unpopular opinion or asking a strange question in the presence of others. However, human progress was and continues to be founded on questions.
When Rosa Parks said “No” on that bus in Montgomery, AL 62 years ago, she was questioning why her life mattered less than her fellow Americans who happened to be white. If it wasn’t for Parks, along with the other Civil Rights activists of the ‘60s who questioned authority and its hold over them, I, and many of the people we know, would not be where we are today. Their persistent challenging of human ethics surrounding their treatment paved the way for a step forward in minority rights. It began the ongoing process of changing the minds and hearts of people across the globe in terms of race. This is how we catapult change forward.
On a personal level, questions still remain powerful. We must question ourselves—our motives, our beliefs, and our values—in order to mature. Stagnation is not an option if we desire to grow.
The question is a powerful tool. In societies, it allows for advancements in technology as well as shifts in public opinion. In personal life, self reflecting questions warrant an impulse to achieve. So let’s take life with a grain of salt for the improvement of ourselves and others.