You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
~Rainer Maria Rilke
I’ve spent my whole life listening to people giving me the answers. Parents, education… college… grad school, books, television, friends, government, the news, church, Google… the list goes on and on. Answers, answers, answers. Everyone is right and everyone else is wrong. Hmmm… It’s easy. Slick. Comfortable. Quantifiable… to have the answers. We can put everything (God, people, ourselves) in a box and move on. It’s easier for us to have fun, relax, and worry about nothing but our own worlds when we can explain everything away. Ahhh… peace at last.
The only problem, though, is the thought that I am right and everyone else who disagrees must therefore be wrong. We are, from this point on, isolated into communities who think only the same as I do. There is no unity… only a cordial (or not-so-cordial) “agreeing to disagree.” Well, I have quickly tired of this way of being… this divider of community. My sincere hope is to bring people together to truly be in community even while we think differently about things… even while we can honestly say “I don’t know.” To do this, I will hereby be a Protector of the QUESTION.
To protect the questions, we must know that it is here, in the questions, that we can truly and always unite. No matter where our stories have taken us, it is the questions that are universal.
“What does it mean to belong?” “Who is in control and why does it matter? How much control do I have?” “Why am I here? What am I supposed to do with my life?” “What is the lonely for?” “How much stuff is enough?” “What does it mean to be a man.woman.mother.father.son.daughter?”
These questions, and so many more, are the questions that bring us together. When we begin to “love the questions themselves,” we are able to learn from each other, not fix or correct each other. It is then that life guides us into the answers… something that will not happen if we cannot begin to love the questions. This is why I will continue to protect them for you… and ask you to join me. We need more protectors of the question… then we will be able to live into the answers together.
2 thoughts on “Protecting the questions and living into the answers”
Oooh. LOVE the quote!
I love the ideas here about protecting the question and I want to believe that you are right when you say, “we must know that it is here, in the questions, that we can truly and always unite.” But I can’t help thinking of my own awful experiences where my passion for the questions was in fact the very dividing point between myself and dear friends. They want to (without realizing it themselves) be sequestered into a group that thinks and believes just like them because they do truly believe they have the only right answer…which demonstrates your point well. But if I ever want to be united with these friends, I have to stop caring about the questions and pretend I agree with their silly questionless answers, pretend I don’t see all the other unanswered questions. So I don’t see any way the questions can ever unite us…unless of course, they change their way of thinking about the value of the questions, and doesn’t that create the same problem of one of us being right and one of us being wrong and the “other” person needing to change…which is as you say, a devisive way to be…
What I actually think is that in most places, a half-seeing tolerance is the closest thing we’ll get to unity, which is not very inspiring, of course. I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving the questions or readily connecting with others who are like me in that, but I do think to truly honor and love those who are not like me, I need to be able to respect and accept the fact that their hearts just don’t love my questions…can’t even tolerate them really.
So the “question” to ask is how can we hold our own strong views. perspectives, and beliefs and also engage with others in discussing their strong views, perspectives and beliefs. If we go to the position of avoiding the differences and conflicts I believe that this is just avoidance of conflict and not truly bringing your true self to the community. We must agree to disagree but not try not to disagree. Engaging in our differences helps us to form our true understandings, and know what we truly believe.
Watering down our differences to avoid conflict is a recipe for false community.