Jean Croker Petke

Dinner Questions

Dinner Questions

As I traveled, I was witness to many lively conversations. I jotted the questions in my notebook so I could share them with you and because they caused me to ponder:

  1. Why are there locks on the river? Doesn’t water just level itself out? How can there be a difference in height from one part of the river to another? It just makes no sense.
  2. How do fish learn to climb a fish ladder? That question came up because I had explained that, not only do boats have to cross a dam, so do fish.
  3. How does white asparagus grow?

We don’t know what we don’t know. It’s a fact — and true for all of us. Things I consider common knowledge because I’ve known them since I was young may be completely unknown to others.

My dad worked for the Corps of Engineers and designed hydroelectric dams, so I’ve known about dams forever: why we need them, how they work, what the turbines do, how locks work, and the importance of fishladders. But fellow passengers had no idea why we needed locks to navigate the Danube, because they had a different knowledge base than I have.

About the white asparagus: I heard one time that it totally grows underground, hence it stays white.  After researching a bit, I learned that white asparagus does indeed grow underground, which prevents the chlorophyll development that turns it green. Green asparagus is most popular in the United States, while white asparagus is more common in Europe.


And then there was Schindler’s name on the airport escalators in Munich. I immediately remembered watching the movie, Schindler’s List, and assumed there was a connection.  I recalled that he worked with metals and saved a lot of Jews during World War II. In my post-trip research, I learned Schindler is a common German name and this company was established in the late 1800s. While I was disappointed at the lack of connection, what was really important was that the name helped me understand where I was travelling. Constant references to World War II by tour guides brought history to life for me. Reminders of the war were everywhere. I’m thinking I need to reread some history to further understand what happened about the time I was born.

I tell you these instances from my trip because I believe it’s critical to ask the questions and search for the answers, to continue to increase our knowledge about things that spark our interest, or things we’ve never thought about before. We have to keep learning and growing and becoming, in my opinion.

Also, I am suggesting carefulness in how we share what we know with others who don’t know what we know. We can lecture, we can tell everything we know, we can be authoritative on the subject, we can share a few basics along with why/how we know such things though we don’t have all the answers, or . . . we can encourage them to do their own research, to discover the answers to their questions.

We don’t all know the same things — we can’t — but there is value and wisdom in thoughtful exchange. Questions open doors to new worlds, new thoughts, new ideas, and new ways of being.

Keep asking questions.

Keep searching for answers and understanding.


Until next Tuesday . . .



One Comment - Leave a Comment
  • Carol Bennington -

    Unlike what is often assumed, the role of the philosopher is to ask questions. Ask away!

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