Monday, March 17, 2014

Let's have MORE "annoying" questions

One of the hot things on the Internet right now is to write a blog, or produce a video, about annoying things people ask / say to... whatever. Engaged people. Black womenJews. People from India.

And I'm finding it ANNOYING.

No country nor ethnicity nor cultural group has a monopoly on cultural ignorance. None. You've been asked stupid questions about your religion? I guarantee you YOU have thought or even asked stupid questions about someone else's religion. I hear lots of jokes about how stupid people from the USA are about foreign countries - and, indeed, people from the USA are horribly ignorant about most things beyond our country's border - but I have heard stupid or inappropriate questions from people world wide that have made my jaw drop - questions or comments about the USA, or about other countries.

I could make a list of those stupid or inappropriate questions I've heard or been asked, and we could all have a good laugh. But I'm not going to. I could make a list of stupid questions and comments I have heard from graduates and students of Yale upon hearing that I was from Kentucky. But I'm not going to (besides, if you know me, you've heard me recite the list many times).

I'm not going to list those questions and comments because I'd like to encourage MORE questions among people from different regions, different religions, different countries and different cultures. And I'd like to encourage you, when you hear a question about your religion, your home country or home state, your culture, your religion (or lack there of), a question that you can't believe someone is asking, a question you think someone should already know the answer to, to take a deep breath, and calmly answer the question. You can begin your answer with, "You know, there seems to be a common misunderstanding among people that.... whatever... The truth is that.... whatever. I hope you will tell your friends and family this, so they can understand this."

Don't answer in a way that belittles the person, even if you think the question was a passive aggressive attempt to humiliate you. Be better than that.

We need more questions among different people. We NEED them. There's too much ignorance running around, too much misunderstanding leading to hostility. We need more dialogue. And dialogue will come only if we welcome questions - no matter how ignorant those questions may make a person look.

Remember that you HAVE asked questions just as silly or ignorant and those you've heard. Welcome questions, no matter how they sound to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment