Change Starts By Asking Questions

“Asking questions is the first way to begin change.”

Kubbra Sait

When was the last time you took time to get to know someone?

I’m not talking about a two minute exchange of name, occupation, and a few other surface level pieces of information. I’m asking about sitting down for a longer stretch of time and having a conversation that goes deeper.

In our busy, hectic, me-focused world, we too often brush by opportunities to get to know others.

I’m guilty of this, and I’m guessing many of you are guilty as well.

Yesterday afternoon, I had an hour long ride with an Uber driver on my way back home from Bethlehem, PA (why I was in Bethlehem in need of a ride home is a whole other story). An hour is a long time to spend with someone you don’t know (at least that’s what I was thinking when I first sat down in the passenger seat of the car). I could have popped in my earbuds and listened to podcasts the whole time. I could have simply kept my mouth shut and enjoyed the scenery out the window. I could have wasted the opportunity to get to know the Uber driver I may never meet again.

Instead, I decided to talk to my driver. I decided to ask him questions and to listen to his story.

“Curiosity is the process of asking questions, genuine questions, that are not leading to an ask for something in return.”

Brian Grazer

My driver’s name was Mohammed. He is 26 years old, he is from Northern Pakistan – near Afghanistan. He came to the United States four or five years ago. He now calls Nazareth, PA is home although he is living in a one bedroom apartment near Lehigh University where he is currently studying political science. He plans on going to law school after he graduates from Lehigh in another year and a half. To help save money, he attended community college for his first two years of college. That’s the surface level stuff.

As our drive continued, we began to broach deeper topics which included the differences between living in Pakistan and living in the United States. We talked about his family (he is one of seven children). He shared about his love for Pakistani food (particularly lamb and goat). I learned a little bit about his childhood about the fears associated with living where terrorism was a “regular” part of life.

Closer to my home, we began to talk about faith and religion. He asked me about my religion, and I then learned that he was a non-practicing Muslim. He was raised Muslim, and he is now in the process of reading the Koran and trying to determine his own path regarding this faith.

Before I knew it, we were pulling into my driveway. I think we could have talked for another hour or two – maybe longer.

The conversation was sparked by questions. We both asked each other questions as we drove on the highways and back roads to my home.

Mohammed and I are obviously very different – in our age, in our upbringing, in our faith. It would be easy to linger silently and uncomfortably because of these differences. Silence only leads to ignorance, and ignorance leads to stagnation and often conflict.

If we want to see positive change in this world, we must seek knowledge. In order to get knowledge, we must speak up, we must ask questions, and we must listen and learn to the answers we receive.

I’m so thankful for my Uber ride with Mohammed yesterday.

Imagine a world in which everyone asked questions to truly gain understanding. Imagine the change we would experience.

Change starts with you and me. Change starts by taking off our me-focused blinders. Change starts when we take time to listen and learn.

When was the last time you took time to get to know someone?

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Jesus – Matthew 7:7 (NIV)