Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt. – Clarence Darrow
What does that mean?
Imagine a situation where children don’t ever doubt an adult. All is well, until that adult is a predator, right? Yes, there are times when a child should listen without question or doubt to what an adult says, but only certain adults.
But far more important, what will happen to a child who was raised to never consider what was said, to never doubt or question what they are told, when they grow up? When and how will they acquire these critical skills?
Without them, they will be fleeced by anyone and everyone with fewer scruples. They will believe the most outrageous lies. They will be taken in by any and every story of woe told to them. They will be unable to properly sort out fact from fiction, and this will lead them into all kinds of trouble.
Why is doubt important?
In the first section, we considered the tragedy of one individual, and the difficulties they will face throughout the rest of their life. Now let us consider what would happen when we go from child to children, from just one child to many children.
What would happen to that town, that city, that region, or that country? How would they prevent others from taking advantage of them? How long would it take less honest people to notice these people and take advantage of them? And what about the politicians, how long would it take for them to do the same?
Most of us have grown up in an era where Science is King. People in lab coats are not to be doubted, because they’re smart. Yet there are those who regularly take advantage of our trust in them, in our lack of doubt. From Cold Fusion to advanced cloning techniques, they are out there and ready to take advantage of your trust.
Where can I apply this in my life?
There was a Russian saying which was popular during the 1980’s Cold War era and the reduction of arms, which translates roughly to “Trust, but Verify.” That is applicable to pretty much all of our lives, with the exception of those we trust completely.
For some, that list will be quite long, for others, it will be quite short. It may vary based on the topic, as well. For those with kids, do you trust the answer of “No, I don’t have any homework” on a nice spring day, with a group of their friends waiting on the porch? Or would there be a little doubt?
Getting back to children, regularly doubting them probably isn’t the lesson you want to teach them, right? Instead, have you challenged them to find the answers themselves, or at least verify some of what you have said? To me, that would be a good thing.
There is a difference between a healthy skepticism and belligerent dismissal. Both can be labeled “doubt” albeit extreme cases. Trying to guide the children towards the former rather than the latter is, I believe, the point of this quote.
You can also ask for their sources when they tell you something. That way, you are verifying and being doubtful, but not in a confrontational manner (at least not if you do it with some tact). This tactic is one that they can learn to work with, and eventually, make their own.
Similarly, there are few places where the techniques of cautious doubt, or verification, are not applicable. Matters of faith and trust are touchy subjects, but can be handled with tact. Just be careful, as what you think is a simple question can be misinterpreted by others.
Doubt has a place in our lives, and in our discourse. It is not the opposite of trust, but a light which can be used to confirm trust, or to show it was a sham from the beginning. Without a little doubt, without a little verification, life is going to be tough.
Whether it is what your teen was doing out late last night, or where your significant other was late last night, some questions are going to be harder to ask than others. While trust has its place in our lives, so does doubt. Do you doubt me? See what I did there?
Doubt is useful, when used properly and with tact. No one wants an interrogation, but letting everything slide won’t be any better.
From: Twitter, @QuoteLeadership
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/clarenceda154026.html
Photo by Beverly & Pack
Happy Birthday to Clarence Darrow, born 18 April, 1857.