My late father told me a story a long time ago from a long time ago. He was a Rhodes scholar selected from his school in Cape Town in the early 1930’s. At that time, Rhodes scholars at Oxford typically read PPE, Philosophy, Politics and Economics. They were sitting their Philosophy exam in Brasenose College. The exam paper was put before them. On it was one question.
I remember my father saying that the students were writing away furiously, filling up their papers with all sorts of explanatory answers within the 3 hours allocated. One student thought for about 5 minutes, wrote down his answer in a second or two, lay down his pen and left the examination room. His answer was –
That pupil got full marks.
Well, I think it’s a lovely story and something I think about from time to time in one way or another. It expresses a deeply interesting philosophical, if perplexing question. It requires a sort of justification or explanation as to e.g. why did this happen? – and to further questioning e.g. what is the cause of this? What is the meaning behind this? How can I understand this? Why me? I think of Job remaining steadfast in his wrestling with God.
The whirlpool of why’s are never ending, and yet I believe it is important to never stop asking why. We may never have any final answers to our questions much as we want them. The answers remain a mystery and perhaps sometimes this is how it should be.
In a previous post, my friend on the Internet, Van, commented last night on my ‘Tree’ post, 3 back. I have his permission to quote him. He wrote that squirrels bury the Oak’s ‘…acorns in the ground in order to have food in the winter. But they never go back to get them all. In fact, most of those acorns hidden in the ground have a better chance of becoming oak trees than dinner for a squirrel. Maybe the squirrels can remind mankind of a way long forgotten before it became practice to consume more than what is replenished. Besides conservation, the squirrels and the oak trees offer to teach us the value of cooperation’.
Can we learn something of value from this? Why not? But I am asking this question in a positive if rhetorical way ie. why not observe and reflect on all we observe all about us. See the reflection in the mirror, in a lake of the trees, the birds, the sky, ourselves. Why not learn from our relationships? Why does the same pattern keep on repeating itself? Why not keeping on asking those questions, why? and why not?