Posted by: Beth | January 18, 2021

CURIOSITY

Have you been around a toddler lately?  A little child who is just learning to talk?  What’s that? Who is that?  What’s that?  What’s this? Every breath seems to be a question.  By the age of three the question is “Why?”  No matter how many times you answer, their reply is “Why?”  We begin life as curious creatures.  It’s how we learn about our world and ourselves. Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes.  You sang that didn’t you? We learn what, who, where, and eventually when, how, and why.

Fast-forward to adulthood and we are still curious. What’s that noise?!  Oh, it’s just a cat outside the door.  Why in the world would anybody do that? What caused this cancer?  Why are those flowers sometimes blue and sometimes pink – on the same bush? Is it supposed to rain this weekend? Will it really be that bad if I don’t take this medicine the doctor prescribed? How many times can one child spill a glass of milk – during one meal? Where do the memories go?

Sometimes the answers are easy to find, like the cat outside the door.  Some are a bit exasperating, like how many times can the milk be spilled. Some are mostly fun, like what makes a hydrangea blue or pink.  Some create conspiracy theories, like why would anybody do such a thing, whatever “that thing” happens to be.

I don’t know if curiosity has really killed many cats, but it has gotten some people into a bit of a pickle. You know as many of those stories as I do.  Someone is curious enough to eavesdrop but not curious enough to clarify the details. The story gets passed along and changed and eventually gets back to the original speaker, who laughs hysterically at the ridiculousness of the story.  Or, they get mad and create a scene and go try to straighten out all the details to everybody.  Either way, it’s just a mess.

And then there’s the dig for facts kind of curiosity.  Once upon a time you had to know people who knew things or read books to find information.  Now, you just ask Siri or Alexa or Google.  And if it’s on the internet, it has to be true, right?  We all know that, sadly, that many things on the internet are not true. Distinguishing the facts from opinions can be difficult.  Even more difficult is distinguishing true information from twisted information. New information compounds the difficulty of knowing what is “true.”

Just a few tidbits from history –

Bloodletting is a cure for disease.
Tomatoes are poisonous.

Pewter, a popular material for drinking vessels, was made of lead. We used lead in water pipes and paint for our walls and furniture without causing any harm.

Thermometers were made of glass with mercury inside.  Shoot, we safely played with little balls of mercury after the thermometer broke.

At points in history, these were considered true.  We have learned differently.  To believe that we at this point in history have a complete and thorough understanding of what is safe and what is not is to be dangerously arrogant. To settle on an opinion and be closed to new information on a topic – whether it is what fabrics to use for clothing or masks, what kinds of food to eat, whether to wear a mask or get a vaccine – is to risk looking as silly as those people you think were pitifully ignorant in years past.

#bgwww21


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