The Right Question

The wrong question is an answer masquerading as question, for embedded in the question is the sole answer of the person who is posing it. On the one hand, it ends all further discussion, but on the other hand one can waste a lifetime trying to answer an answer. Ideally, we must refuse to deal with the wrong question, since it is meant to divert and deflect attention from the real question, which whenever killed or ignored; resurrects in the form of a catastrophe, a Katrina or a war. Should we decide or are forced to indulge and give futility a chance by dealing with the wrong question; it helps to remember that the use of who, what, where, when and why is not confined to extending invitations. It can make the difference between life and death to millions of people, when the wrong question happens to be: which is better to kill or be killed?

Firstly, the question assumes that the act of killing which has been the issue since the beginning of humanity is not the issue, but that the preference to the time and place of killing is. Secondly, having decided that killing is fine by all and considering that nobody likes to be killed any time any place; the question concludes that it is better to kill before getting killed, preferably, at ‘their’ place and in our own time. In other words, the question is not a question but an invitation to preempt our death by causing death to others, and which if we accept we sentence ourselves to a life of inaction, paralysis and fear. Because when we accept the worst by accepting that the act of killing is not the issue, there is nothing that we will not accept. To preempt death by crashing, we either stop or are too afraid to use planes, trains, buses and cars. Since there is always the possibility of falling while walking and we never know when a chair decides to collapse; we lie down and await a catastrophe, a Katrina or a war that we cannot avert. When all along, we could preempt our death and death of others by dealing with the question that has always been and will forever be the real question: to kill or not to kill? For once storms and wars are in the making; they are beyond dialogue. They follow their own logic and live up to their names and reputations for causing death and destruction.

Assuming we either want to or are somehow forced to deal with the wrong question, assuming we believe in the “right war”; just like we ask who is playing what in which theatre when and where, so we do not end up watching the wrong play; to preempt our children and other people’s children from being in the “wrong war”; we must ask who wants to kill whom and why? Is that limited to a time and place or are we in the mood for an onset of a World War Three? Is it morally acceptable that millions of children in certain parts of the world have lived through the effects of two major wars by the age of ten, and if plans go according to plans, will live through the effects of two more wars by age of twelve? Having asked all those questions, it is up to us what answers we can live with. But it is the bare minimum we must do if some of our answers may save some lives.

How is it that we otherwise nice people become indifferent and apathetic to the suffering of others? Just like we learn to deal with the right issues, we learn to deal with the wrong issues. Instead of getting nurtured we get malnourished. The history of asking the wrong question starts somewhere with the question, who do you love more mom or dad? It duly regresses into a type of question akin to, what do you think is more important to living, food or water? It necessarily ends with the question, which is better to kill or be killed? If the answer to the first question is mom, it is big trouble with dad. If the answer is dad, it is even bigger trouble with mom. But to land at the end of history of asking the wrong question and to end all discussion; the answer would be, I love them both equally instead of it depends. Who wants to know and why? Are we ten twenty or two hundred when asked? Is it during a “War of the Roses” between the parents or during an “Analyze This “or that session? Does the neigbour want to take the recipe for children’s love or does the mother want to know if she gets extra points for bearing child, father and life in general? Is it a question or a threat by the father? Whereby, he is in effect saying: how dare you love your mother more or less or altogether, after all I have invested in buying your soul to free you from all soul and soul related issues? If you are not with me you are against me. I promise to make your life miserable at every corner and corridor of the UN, the World Bank and which ever way I can and by God. Amen.

Since we love the people we love differently or in parallels; we cannot measure equal love. Nor can we measure equal importance of food and water in our lives. For whether both or none is important depends on whether one is hungry and thirsty in a middle of a Katrina or full and bloated in between cocktail parties while raising money for a Katrina. Only while the debate is on, people die of hunger and thirst. Because all along, the right question to be dealt with is who is hungry and why? Do we want to do something about it and why and why not? Since hunger and thirst cannot be forgotten just because they are always on agendas, can we live with a Bastille like syndrome?

While the debate is on whether Israel is building a fence or a wall people are getting killed, their lives are ruined and more Palestinian lands are being confiscated by Israel. If the word occupation is mentioned at all, then it is the Palestinians who are occupying Israeli lands. If humanitarian laws are mentioned at all, then it is the settlers who are being evicted from “their” homes. If international law is mentioned at all, then why does not the UN reverse or at least compact the all too many Resolutions that are unfavourable to Israel into one or two because of paper scarcity. Paper scarcity being related to forests and rain forest, the issue becomes environmental after all, and is related to whales’ psychology which has no relation to Israeli occupation. That is not to say that a relationship cannot readily be found with scientists, academics and specialists vouching that whales commit suicide because Palestinians are setting a bad example.

While the debate is on whether it is better to kill before being killed, people are getting killed. They are people who have names and families that wait for them to join them for meals or for the Holiday Season. Only, they never show up. While many are killed in action, many more are killed in inaction.

While people are getting killed we may choose to deal with the wrong question as much as we like and for as long as we like. We may come to the conclusion that it is better to kill before getting killed or go to go to war before war comes to us. But the right question, the act of killing irrespective, will always come back demanding to be dealt with. Even if we ask who, what, where, when and why, and decide that we can live happily ever after without compassion being a contributing factor to our happiness, when we adopt whatever makes us happy, as a way of life; to protect that way of life, we are willing to accept the worst to preempt the worst. We die of fear and mental paralysis before we actually die. It is not like we have to be on the battlefield to die. It is a frame of mind that can only preempted if we get into the frame of mind whenever someone asks us a simple question like how are you, is to answer that it depends on who wants to know and why. Is it a friend or is it the master asking his slave?