We all get our big questions from somewhere. Whether it be our friends during a heated discussion on existentialism, our teachers knowingly or unknowingly planting the seed of curiosity in our minds, or ourselves when our mind wanders on and on.
Questions of a provocative nature are as numerous and as varied as there are people in the world, and then some. Everybody has thier own question[s] and thier own opinions on what the answer may be, despite the fact that a definitive answer may never reveal itself. But thats the joy of provocative questions. They are provocative.
A question that I’m sure all of us have asked or are still asking is; how can I change the world? When people say they want to change the world they might mean diffenerent things. This brings us to the question, do we want to change the world on a whole, or change the world for one person? In other words, do we want to make life a little bit different for a lot of people, or do we want to dramatically change the life of someone for the better, therefore completely changing thier world.
Now, when people say they want to change the universe, that’s just ridiculous. Because first of all, what percentage of the known universe can be affected by you? An extremely small percent. In fact, the only thing that can be affected, is the floating bit of rock we call earth. That’s all that can we can affect and be affected by. Our goal is not to change the lives of people on Neptune, because there aren’t any lives there. We can only hope to achieve affecting others by focusing on our world. [I suppose this could be an analogy for our expectatons.]
To dig deeper into this question of wanting to change the world, we must ask ourselves, why? Why do we want to change the world, no matter our definition on “the world”. Is it to be remembered? And does wanting to be remembered make our want to change the world a selfish thing? This in turn brings us to the question that can not only be applied to this question, but many others: does the means of which we achieve our goal matter? A great example of this would be the story of Christopher Columbus. His ultimate goal was progress. And he achieved his version of progress, but not without leaving his mark on the poeple he belived he had to get through to achieve it. This is a drastic example, but makes you think about the answer to that question.
Many provocative questions are ones thought of by many others, and have philosophers currently attempting to solve the sometimes unsolvable. A common question would be, what is life? I cannot deny that I too have thought of this question and have asked others, usually to recieve a sarcastic or comedic response (Siri told me the answer was chocolate. Hard to disagree). This question is perhaps too vague. By definition, life is the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, and continous change before death, or the existance of a living being. Searching Google would give you the answer to that. Not really a provocative question then. So the question is, what does life mean? Or in other words, what does our life mean in the grand scheme of things? And this brings us back to one of my earlier questions.
More deep-thinking questions of mine include:
- Why do we fear death? What is it about death that scares us? Is it the dying? or being dead? Or do we fear what could come after? Is it the fear of not knowing?
- What are we? Are we our body? Our mind? Our soul?
- Does achieving our goal bring us happiness? Is the pursuit the real joy? The end result just being the metaphorical cherry on top?
- Is there life other than us out there? If there is life, would we even see it as life? Would it display the characteristics that life here does?
- Are there beings much bigger than us ‘out there’? Is there a god? Whether it be the god of the Christian, Muslim, or any other religion known or unknown?
All these questions have the ability to develop into larger or smaller questions which in turn give light to more questions and so on and so forth. That’s what provocative questions are. Questions which trigger other deep-thinking questions. A butterfly effect of questions that maybe won’t ever be answered. These questions are a very special type of question. Some provocative questions have evolved, such as is the earth round, to now, is the universe round (a whole other blog post). We’ve all had and still have provocative questions burning in our minds, with a desire to have it answered. But maybe that’s the beauty of provocative questions. Sometimes, there isn’t an answer.
And as for my first question on trying to change the world, you can. That is an answer I like to think I have correct. You may not chasnge the world Bill Gates or Steve Jobs did. You may not even change the world the Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King did. But one thing is for sure. You can. You may have already. You may have already changed someone’s life for the better, and you just dont know it. Or if your family sponsors a child in a struggling nation. Even volunteering at a local community or charity, you could be changing someone’s life, and therefore, thier entire world. Our neighbours in Jupiter can wait. Dont set too high standards for yourself. Your question on how you could change the world might have its answer hiding in plain sight. You just need to find it because it’s going to be different for everybody. That is one provocative question I hope that everyone will one day find an answer to.
Will all provocative questions have answers? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean to stop searching for the answer. Enlist the help of your friends who just finished thier talk with you on thier existential crsis. Look for guidance in your teachers who knowingly or unknowingly planted that seed of curiosity in your head. Or of course, try and answer the question youself when your mind has wandered when in fact it should be learning the difference between rational numbers and irrational numbers.These questions are all meant to be challenging, and thats the fun of it. Some are of course more intimidating than others, but that’s OK. Pick ones you are intruiged by, which in my case is [fortunately and unfortunately] all of them.Sometimes you wont be successful in finding answers, but like I said before, some questions aren’t meant to be answered, and that’s the beauty of it.