This I Believe

Varsha - Coralville, Iowa
Entered on May 27, 2007

It is impossible to be in the company of a child without them asking a constant stream of questions. “What is that?”; “Why?”; “How does that work?” To most adults these questions define the essence of childhood, a certain lack of understanding about the world and how it works. I believe in the need for this desire to understand the world, not only for children but for everyone. Quite simply, I believe in curiosity. Sometime after that scary, exciting, wonderful transition to adulthood these questions disappear. Not, I think, because they are not thought. But because they are considered a unnecessary vestige for lives where mortgage payments, jobs, and acquisition of material goods are valued more highly than the pursuit of education simply for itself. I am convinced that from a fast food worker to a high powered executive, everyone wonders about the answers to little mysteries in their lives. For me, these questions range from the identity of a particularly troublesome weed in the backyard to the reason that the computer shuts down every time a certain file is opened. When these questions do occur I let them linger. As a child our first impulse would not be to call the local gardening company or the tech support guy on the third floor. It would be to wonder, to create explanations in our head, and to verify these explanations by asking sources of knowledge. To a child an adult is the ultimate source of knowledge. For an adult the ultimate source of knowledge is each other. As a species we have explored other lands, identified the secrets behind complex natural processes, and built machines capable of surpassing even our own abilities. As human beings it is our responsibility to wonder how these achievements are possible. When I open myself up to the possibility of understanding the developments made by my fellow homo sapiens there is no assurance of reward, no pay raise, no place in the history books. What I hope happens is the attainment of the more ephemeral and arguably more valuable goal of engagement in the world around me. In a time when we seem divided by our differences perhaps we can all be drawn together by a shared need to understand ourselves and our place on this Earth. So, this I truly believe, that for my whole life I will use my curiosity to pursue, without a map and with no guarantee of success, that infinite treasure that is Knowledge.