Don’t ever be afraid to ask the hard questions

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 5/12/21

Life is full of questions — of all degrees.

Some are profound, such as “Why do bad things happen to good people?” That’s not a new one; it’s been going on since the invention of people. …

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Don’t ever be afraid to ask the hard questions

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Life is full of questions — of all degrees.

Some are profound, such as “Why do bad things happen to good people?” That’s not a new one; it’s been going on since the invention of people. The book of Job is all about that.

Others are somewhat less intense but still important to those asking them. I know a fellow who is a “few-years-ago” transplant to Chatham County who wasn’t born here but got here as quickly as he could. Rather than move his college basketball devotion to the “Tobacco Road” trio of Duke, N.C. State and UNC, he continues an allegiance to his alma mater, a Midwestern university that has had some athletic success through the years. When I was in the habit of seeing him fairly often, he would ask the question about his school every March: “Will they ever win the national basketball championship again?” It’s the same one I pose about my Tar Heels.

There are, of course, a host of others — why does my dollar not go as far as it once did; why does a gallon of gas require a loan from the bank; will Congress ever stop with the double standard of nailing the working class while they and so many others go for a walk in the park. And while we’re on the subject of Congress there’s the question of why don’t — and why can’t — the members get along and serve the folks they’re supposed to? The list, it seems, can be endless.

This brings me to another realization, namely that in the realm of questions there are two kinds: those we can answer and do something about, and those we can’t.

Take the one about Congress, for instance. I believe the odds are that I could walk down the sidewalk and take the first 535 average Americans I meet and put 100 in the Senate and the other 435 in the House and they’d do a better job than today’s crowd. Obviously, the answer to the question why don’t I is that I don’t elect the Senator from Maine or Nevada or the House member from Illinois. So, the real answer to that question is, “I’ll try to get along the best I can while I’m still here.”

On the other hand, when I’m sitting at the corner table at my favorite Greasy Spoon and the waiter asks, “What will you have?” at that moment I’m in charge and can easily answer, “Bring me one of everything.”

Questions are made up of words — that’s a no-brainer, isn’t it — and ideas. And it takes both to make a good question. Sometimes the two don’t work together so well, however. I’m thinking, for instance, of “Why do we drive on the parkway and park on the driveway?” Or, “Where do we go when we go to sleep?”

Two favorites in that area lately pop up more and more often with the talking heads on television news. The news is full of stories about people who “got in an accident” or “went missing.” How do you get in an accident? Are you strolling down the road and see one in the ditch and go get into it? And how do you “go” (or went) missing?

Oft times I like to ponder such ramblings of the mind. Some folks tell me I have too much free time on my hands, but I do find it interesting. Maybe it’s mental exercise. The other day a friend mentioned a new one to which I’m giving some thought and I’m about to conclude it’s in the unanswerable category.

She said she had heard it from someone else and she wasn’t able to come up with an answer, which at that point made me ask why she thought I would know. Anyway, the question centered on her observation that the local population was increasing in part because many folks from north of the Mason-Dixon Line “retire to the South.” She then wanted to know, “Where do Southerners go when they retire?” After all, do you know anyone who has retired to New Jersey? If you know the answer to that one, let me know.

Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.


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