A few weeks ago, my brain was bombarded with an abundance of questions. Among them were societal origins I have always been curious about and observations of the world around me that simply make no sense to me whatsoever. So I have written them all down. I realize that while many of these are rhetorical, some of them probably do have answers. There are also a few of these questions, however, that address issues that I think we should actually do something about.
- Why do cultures “translate” names of people and places into their own language? For example, it baffles me how we call Firenze “Florence” here in the United States, instead of just referring to it by the name people actually call it there. Or, why do I become “Raquel” in a Spanish classroom, and automatically revert back to Rachel as soon as I leave? I have no clue why this practice even started. Why don't we all use the exact spelling and pronunciation of the name originally given?
- How in the world are musicians expected to avoid breaking the copyright law in their songwriting? There are only so many sequences of notes to go around, so odds are, my work is going to have a few parallels with some already-existing songs. And even if a melody I “composed” sounds strikingly similar to one of the billions of songs in the history of the world, how am I supposed to identify the song I “stole” from? How does one manage to ensure that they have not subconsciously copied a three-note-line of someone else’s song? If you are in the music industry and you have tips on how to research this, please let me know. I am desperate for answers!
- Why are we taking so long to just convert to the metric system already? The United States is one of the three countries in the entire world that uses another system of measurement. All of that time students spend in the classroom learning how to convert between the two systems could be spent reviewing far more important concepts, and it would not even be necessary if we just adopted the metric system in the first place! I do understand, however, that this would require a lot of work, planning, and time, in terms of updating all of the streets, signs, vehicles, thermometers, countless other things, etc. But I feel like it would be worth it, and I know there are tons of people who agree. If you are among those who strongly agree with me, feel free to sign this petition and share it— they are only 400 signatures away from their goal!
- Why were we taught contractions in grade school, when we would only be discouraged from using them in our essays later on in life?
- How did someone figure out to make the first mirror and the first soap? How are mirrors and soap even created in the first place? And what would my hair possibly look like every day if I lived in an era before shampoo was invented? I am afraid to know the answer.
- Who all came up with those hand clapping games like "Down By the Banks" and "Mary Mack", and how on Earth did they spread so fast? People I know from all over the globe are familiar with them.
- Why do some want to leave out “one nation under God” from the pledge of allegiance, to avoid offending Atheists? I mean, I was always told that Atheists are too rational to be offended by obsolete theology. It would seem silly for something “nonexistent” to bother them that much.
- Why do US history textbooks begin with disclaimers like, “We should not call the tribes that first occupied America, ‘Indians,’ because that title originated from a foolish mistake by Columbus and his voyagers, who thought they had landed in India. The term we should use is Native Americans,” while the textbook writers themselves proceed to refer to the tribes as “Indians” for the entire rest of the book? No joke—my college history textbook actually exemplified this hypocrisy. Why do you think my generation has inherited this ignorant habit?
- Speaking of Social Studies, how come I never learned in school where the states are located on a map or any history past the 1940’s?
- How did settlers first determine which plants were edible and which were poisonous? Did they split up in groups of two, and have one person eat the plant while the other one watched to write down what happens when it is consumed? That must have been a very awkward process.
- Why are so many American citizens so ignorant of the most basic facts about our nation? I think that people (including those who are already US citizens) should be able to pass the naturalization test in order to vote. Political candidates should be able to pass this test in order to run. Voters should know what their chosen candidate stands for on at least 60% of the different issues in order for their votes to go through. Those who are ignorant of what they are voting/standing for and refuse to do anything about it are not eligible for these rights. End of story.
- What if the weather actually followed a pattern like the tides/moon phases, but we just can't see it yet because the sequence is so long?
- Speaking of weather, why is precipitation so unbalanced between United States regions? I have noticed that the Eastern and Western regions of the US tend to see-saw in terms of excess versus severe lack of rain. These extreme shifts are especially true for California; it seems like just when they finally started to get enough rain to stop the forest fires, it started flooding. Give these Californians a break already!
- Why is tolerance so exclusive sometimes?
- Why has it become conventional to ask each other, “How are you?” and then consider it rude when the answer is an honest, yet not positive one?
- What if we all unknowingly see colors differently? For example, you and I may both be seeing the color we each call "green", but what if this color I am seeing is actually what you would consider purple? And we just don't have any way of knowing because it's only possible for each of us to see from our own perspective!
I hope you were humored by or identified with at least some of these!