Why? Just a simple one-word sentence, yet it conveys probably the most anarchic, the most radical, the most provocative and the most democratizing
June 17, 2009



Just a simple one-word sentence, yet it conveys probably the most anarchic, the most radical, the most provocative and the most democratizing thought in the world. The ability to question....no, the right and responsibility to question is the very cornerstone of our democracy. The Founding Fathers set forth programs and laid the groundwork to check the workings of our govenment by requiring it to answer to the people from which it was composed.

And yet, somewhere in the last forty years ago or so, we've lost our way. We, collectively as a nation, have decided that we needed to focus on the answers rather than ask the questions. We opt to live among others who share our values, rather than stand to have them questioned by other points of views. We select our media sources from those with which we share an ideological point of view, so our preconceived biases never are challenged. We pour money into the self-help industry, looking for someone to give us the answers that we seek, rather than do the hard work of finding our own path or questioning if we need measure our success in the same way. We gravitate towards politicians who appear to us to have the answers, even though the issues that face us cannot be "solved" by simple answers.

Our lack of appreciation of the power and value of questions leave us mostly disengaged from the democracy of which we're a part. Fewer and fewer people have any notion of how government works and that lack of engagement enables life-changing legislation to get passed with little public discussion.

Where did we lose our way? When did questioning stop being an act of democracy and become unpatriotic? How does this bode for our collective future as another generation is raised with fewer skills to look deeper at issues and analyze and synthesize information to consider solutions? Drum Major Institute's Executive Director Andrea Batista Schlessinger looks at this issue in her new book The Death of Why and she joins us here today to discuss it.

It is Andrea's position that so much of the policy debate is won in the framing. How are issues discussed? Through what lens do we approach debates about government and its role in our lives? Are we creating the capacity/will/desire in our young people to question? Are the tools that we give children to learn actually limiting their ability to really think?

These are questions that go right to the heart of where we find ourselves today and some fairly frightening prospects for our future if we don't reintroduce the value of questioning to the next generation.

Please welcome Andrea Batista Schlessinger to C&L and let's discuss The Death of Why:

Can you help us out?

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