Avoiding Complexity


Was there ever a time in your life when someone asked you a question, but because the answer was not a simple 'yes' or 'no', you avoided it? Perhaps you only had a few minutes to chat to that person, and the answer was too long. Or maybe you didn't feel like you had a definite answer, so you shouldn't speak?

Remember that time when you where feeling down, and a friend asked, 'are you okay?' Did you say, 'I'm fine'. Why? You clearly weren't fine. Was it because, 'It's complicated?'

You wouldn't be alone. I remember when I was asked, 'why do you feel the need to talk about stuff that's so controversial?', I opened my mouth, shut it again, and stammered out a quick, easy response that wasn't true. Because truth is, it's complicated.

We all have times where we avoid answering questions, or even asking questions, because we have an instinct that tells us to stay away from messy, complicated things. The outcome is unpredictable. We fear the unknown. For all we know, a simple, innocent question could lead to upsetting someone, or 'opening a can of worms'.Or an answer that we think is perfectly acceptable could make someone avoid us, or misunderstand. So, we instead back away, and the truth of our thoughts or questions, that might be really important, never come to light.

Have you ever noticed how young children seem to always be asking questions? I can think of so many times where I've seen or heard a child question their parent about everything. Not because they are trying to be annoying or tiresome, but because they don't understand and they want to know. However, often the questions that they ask make us cringe, or quickly shush them up, because to our more mature minds, such a question is considered unacceptable. In an effort to be careful and reserved, we have let ourselves stop wondering and thinking about life, for fear of the outcome. We prefer not to answer or explore the difficult things in life because they are complicated.

But there are some who actually love to explore these social taboos, and ask the difficult questions, not because we want to offend people, but because we want to broaden our understanding of this world we live in. More than often, the answers to life's questions are not simple, or easy to explain, but does that mean we should avoid them? Should we avoid discussing beliefs or ideas because people might cringe? Should we avoid asking a friend about their mental well-being because we don't want to seem unacceptable? And when people ask us questions, should we give them the short, dissatisfying answer for fear of exploring complexity and diversity?

People say that as you get older you get wiser. But it seems to me that we also lose our ability to wonder at the diversity in which we live. We lose our appreciation of complexity.

"One should never remain silent for fear of complexity."
-Elif Shafak