BY MARY-ELIZABETH HARMON
Founding Mother, Chard & Stripes.
I’ll admit that I play fast and loose with quotations:
Mostly, I pluck them from online with nary a search to check their truthfulness or accuracy.
What that means is I’m hoping the “Popular Quotes” on GoodReads.com have been fact-checked, at least minimally, to reduce the chance that I’m lying about what Einstein said.
“I am not a genius, I am just curious.
I ask many questions. and [sic] when the answer is simple,
then God is answering.”
Soon, I’ll present a “spiritual” definition of “genius.”
For now, let’s keep it as “highly intelligent person,” which, I’m sorry to say, you’re not guaranteed to become by asking many questions like Einstein did:
Not all questions are quality questions, or questions with answers that advance our desires. As with quality stories, our framing informs the quality of our questions.
I believe so deeply in the power of questions to help us make heaven or leave us in hell, that I quit a nearly $100,000 job as a fed over the questions driving my work.
Mostly, I asked questions about Medicare fraud, which was uninspiring as well as off-track, I thought, because if ALL Medicare crooks disappeared overnight, silver-haired Americans would still have healthcare woes because of problems with Medicare itself.
I took my job as a public servant to serve.
In Medicare, ending fraud doesn’t equate to serving seniors.
Since serving seniors was my desire, I felt my questions required a service framing, which wouldn’t have meant ignoring fraud, but letting it die on the vine by building a better Medicare.
Mother Teresa famously said (I’m trusting this is true 😊),
“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”
To put that in five words:
Power flows where focus goes.
Asking questions to end things—fraud, war, poverty, etc.—puts our focus on what we don’t want. By doing this, we squander our creative power and miss out on genius answers from God.
The Bible says, Ask and ye shall receive.
What’s missing is that we receive “along the lines in which we ask.”
Questions that miss the mark yield answers that do the same.
Quality questions yield answers that serve society.
It can be tricky forming quality questions, but it starts with being precise about what we want.
We can end hunger with junk food that causes diabetes.
If that’s not the desire, which I’m sure it’s not, we must “focus rightly” on feeding people well and ask questions accordingly.
And be chill enough to hear when God is answering.
P.S. Not to be a grammar snot, but you might like to know this: “Quote” is a verb and “quotation”—a quoted passage—is a noun. So we who love succinct words of wisdom love quotations, not quotes.
P.P.S. Here’s that spiritual definition of genius I promised.
Dr. Mary-Elizabeth Harmon is a scientist turned storyteller and Founding Mother of Chard & Stripes, a “school” of prosperity making and word-of-mouth marketing platform for businesses in food, fashion and more. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter here.