Is the ability to ask questions something we need to learn or is it an innate ability? How should we ask questions so that the passive mind and soul be awakened? How can we learn to ask questions so that we are not presented with false choices? Why do we sometimes fear questions?
Light casts a shadow and darkness casts nothing. A shadow depends on light and shadows are where questions arise. Do we have the courage to question and fear not the answers?
Questions can have many motivations and qualities. There are those that are inquisitive and those that are rhetorical. Religious instruction relies on a catechizing tradition of question and answer. Here, a question is tailored to a specific doctrinal response, from which the mind may not deviate. Also, there is a repetitive element that intends to teach by rote. Both are antithetical to independent thinking.
In our society, those that have ventured to ask penetrating questions have faced dire consequences born out of fundamentalism. Fundamentalism has no patience or courteous consideration for penetrating questions.
While fundamentalism is closely associated with religion, it is a mental attitude rather than a religious belief. It is not the spiritual message at the core of a religion but rather its dogmatic expression grounded in fear. Fundamentalism can therefore be said to be a measure of the hold that the clerical order has upon the masses. Fundamentalism defines the dependency of the many on the interpretation of the few. It is also laden with the fear of being counted amongst the erring!
With centuries of dependence on the clerical order, how can we be weaned from such dependency? Is it not in this context that Marx referred to religion and by extension those that wield authority in its name, as ‘the opiate of the people’?
Our historical need for leadership and our vulnerability to being different is a measure of our collective fears and our dependence. We demand answers to questions we dread to ask!
Meanwhile we are reminded of the power of the state in its public executions. Such is the stage from which the public is reminded of the consequences of defiance. When a man is killed with a prayer of forgiveness on his lips for the crimes of those who are killing him, we must question social justice. When another is imprisoned for sacrilegious heresy and then dies in a spirit of devout humility, we must question orthodox religion. When the person is condemned as stirrer-up of mischief, a provoker of sedition and instigator of social chaos dies quoting poetry, we begin to wonder about our values.
It is through these reversals that our society has learned that they have been duped, made fools of, and raped of their judgement. Will our questions be an answer to fundamentalism?