Friday, September 25, 2009

Asking the Right Questions

Sometimes it is all about asking the right questions.

I read the Newsweek article about Is Your Baby Racist (I read the print version I don’t know if the on-line one is different). Since Newsweek is the worst magazine of all time, I fully expected to hate this article and get cranky about it. However, after reading it I thought to myself "People did not know this already?" The answer to the question is "Yes, your baby is racist". That fits perfectly with a Biblical worldview. So, I am not sure why the fuss from conservatives. Children are born sinners and guess what, they are born selfish. The article talks of one study where kids are randomly given different color shirts. They play together with out caring about the shirt color but at the end of the day they are asked which shirt color has smarter people and looks better and the like. Guess what? They think their own color shirt was better! Racism is nothing more than a way to make yourself look good. It is a way to proclaim yourself better and superior. Selfishness and self-centeredness. Kids are born that way. One should expect it. Yet, this Newsweek guy was floored by such findings. He seemed even more floored by the idea that a diverse classroom did not fix the problem. Kids need to be taught by their parents. Parents need to tell kids that all are equal. I have a hard time believing that is a shocker, but it apparently is.

The problem is not in the article or its findings or it solution to discuss racism in the family. The problem in the article was that the guy asked all the wrong questions? Apparently these studies show that a diverse class room does not help kids get over racism. But did the article ask or discuss this fatal blow to Affirmative Action, which often argues a diverse college or classroom is beneficial? Of course not. More importantly, the Newsweek reported is amazed that so many parents do not want to discuss race and dropped out of the study because they were in the group that had to ask follow-up questions about race. Did he ask why race is such a touchy topic in America? No. Not at all.

The Huffington Post displayed the same sort of ignorance when they had an article about NBC Nightly News growing in viewership. The article starts, "While the conventional wisdom says the evening news is dying, "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" actually grew year-over-year.” The article then goes to give the numbers. NBC apparently added 88,000 viewers while CBS lost 103,000 and ABC lost 363,000. The article is short but clearly praising NBC. However, when the math is done conventional wisdom is right, the news is dying. It lost almost 400,000 viewers in one year. Does the article ask why CBS and ABC lost viewers? No. Does anyone say that maybe the decline in CBS viewers is because they have a female anchor? ABC has announced one as well? Is it discussed? Of course not. People are not asking any questions and just deciding what they want to decide. Honest thinking is gone.

But asking the wrong question is what man does best. Reading the last week of Jesus’s life in Mark (beginning in chapter 11) one cannot help but see all of the wrong headed questions asked by all sorts of people. After 3 years of Jesus healing and preaching and teaching the Pharisees run up and ask "By what authority are you doing these things" (verse 28)? They had missed the greater point. They had missed that Jesus was the Messiah. They are still asking their attack questions. So Jesus asks a question back and they do not like either answer so they just confess ignorance. Jesus tells them a parable that they can see is about them, but they fail to ask questions like "How can we repent?" Or "How can we avoid rejecting the stone?" Instead they try to arrest Him. The Sadducees are next and they try to ask a trick question to trap Jesus about the resurrection, but Jesus rebukes them. A lawyer asks about which is the greatest commandment, a question that is missing the point completely. Although this one has a happy ending as in 12:32 the lawyer comes around and sees Jesus is right and that his own question was wrong. You can see this same epidemic of wrong headed questions no matter which gospel you read. John has Pilate asking questions that miss everything, and most of these same stories are related in Matthew and Luke too.

The Huffington Post’s inability to do basic math and Newsweek’s inability to ask the questions brought up on the opening page of the article are just minor examples. Society is missing the deeper questions. If racism is a problem that we would like to see erased, how can we show our kids racism is wrong? What basis can we give for our equality? Do you see the deeper question now? Do you see the deeper problem that society has made for itself. Evolution cannot be a basis for equality. In fact, evolution has historically been the basis for genocide. There is only one basis for equality and that is that we are all created by God and made in His image. That is after all what the Declaration of Independence says. "All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator certain inalienable rights." No creator, no equality, and no rights. This basic truth stands at the heart of the questions that should have been asked in the Newsweek article. And the answer has been taught to little kids in church for decades. "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world."

When you ask the right questions, the answers are easy. When you ask the wrong questions, then the answers will always be wrong too.


Stephen Gray said...

I agree with your statements here. People do not ask the "right" questions because they can not face the answers. Answers which include accountability and responsibility.

Andrew said...

I agree that the wrong questions are asked, but I am not sure the reaction of the kids was sinful, necessarily. It was ignorant, but kids are ignorant by definition. It is good to identify with your own. It creates loyalty, family bonds, pride in one's heritage, etc. But, we must teach children to think rationally about such things and not simply by reaction. I remember when my little sister, 12 years my younger, cried when she saw her first black man at a few months old. Of course she did. So what? She was a baby who was accustomed, in her short life, to white skin. The problem with the study is it proves nothing we did not know and means nothing. Children are ignorant and foolish and must be taught wisdom. Why does that make news? Of course, the problem with Newsweek is foolishness is their trade.