As children, we constantly asked questions to learn. What is this? Why is the sky blue? How does that work? We directed a constant stream of questions to our parents and adult figures in order to learn. However, as soon as we got to school all that stopped. We seemed to automatically trust the answers received from teachers, trusted leaders and those in positions of power. We no longer challenged why.
Last weekend at Adelaide Writers Week, there was a common theme from the authors invited to present their latest works. The common theme was about celebrating colour, humanity and understanding that we are all in this world together. It was also about challenging why we made the decisions we make.
The writers were from different countries and cultures where language has a powerful way of identifying who we are – words can define us. We accepted that what we were told was right, what society expected us to know. We no longer asked questions, or challenged the source of the information.
As a society we tend to choose the safe, certain option. People are comfortable with certainty. The fear of the consequences of choosing something uncertain scares us. However, the actual consequences can be what empowers us.
Uncertainty is what progresses society.
Society has conditioned us to choose the safe path which can feel like we are in prison. Our culture, thoughts, fears, ideas are deeply rooted in the way we are taught from a young age.
So how do we free ourselves from this prison? First, we need to realise that we are in a prison. We have to know ourselves. We have to know what defines us.
Writing allows us that chance and ability to question.
What do we want to achieve? Are the decisions we make based on historical values or do they need to be changed?
For society to progress, we need to start challenging the norm. We need to find the inquisitive minds we had as children.
Quite often, just because something has been down the same way for years does not mean it cannot be changed. If something is clearly not working, then perhaps it is time to question why and try something new.
Pictures courtesy of Google Clip Art Gallery