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Ask the Right Questions if You Want the Right Answers

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Should we send more troops to Afghanistan?

In previous wars, such as Viet Nam, we sent increase after increase in troops but the bottom line of winning the war never changed. The same problem is happening again in Afghanistan.

The question pre-supposes that more logical questions, such as "Why do we have troops there?" and "What is the strategy of winning in Afghanistan?" have already been answered. I haven't heard answers to these questions, probably because our leaders cannot project toughness by reasoning with the public.

Consider other oft-asked questions:

"When did you stop beating your wife?"

Even the most unethical attorneys know that this type of question will be struck down by the judge in a court of law. The reason is obvious: it pre-supposes an answer that reflects negatively upon the one who has to answer it.

In controversies over political, social and religious matters, we often ask questions that are inappropriate, put others on the defensive or that otherwise miss the point. As a result, we fail to understand each other's point of view and never find a way to stop the tension and divisiveness so prevalent in our society.

"Do you believe in God?"

The question pre-supposes the existence of one deity, obviously the one the questioner believes in. Also, it pre-supposes value in stating one's belief. Interestingly, according to the Bible, Jesus frequently said "talk is cheap."

If it is true that actions speak louder than words, why is a person's belief manifested in their testimony rather than their actions? We should instead ask what people have done recently that demonstrated value to society.

"Are you pro-choice?"/ "Are you pro-life?"

Like many who take sides in politics, each side in the abortion debate typically adopts a label that addresses their own faction. Those who support the legality of abortion want to talk about how a woman should be allowed to choose and those opposed want to talk about the importance of life.

Left unspoken is the fact that no rational person wants abortion to happen. Too little time in abortion debates cover the impracticality of enforcing anti-abortion laws or how the women who go to defend abortion clinics are rarely women who would even consider abortion themselves.

It would be best to ask how we can make abortion less frequent without making it illegal.

We need to start asking each other proper questions that do not back anyone into a corner or evade the real issues. And we need to listen to one another. If we can communicate with those with whom we disagree, we can protect the hope that lights our way.

Dean Hartwell's book, "Planes without Passengers: the Faked Hijackings of 9/11," reached the top of Amazon's charts for large print books on history. He has authored three others: "Facts Talk but the Guilty Walk:the 9/11 No Hijacker Theory and Its (more...)
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