header photo

Project Vision 21

Transforming lives, renewing minds, cocreating the future

Blog Search

Blog Archive


There are currently no blog comments.

The worst answer I ever received was, "You can’t talk about that"

Of all the responses that I have never received to my questions, the most unpleasant response has been "You can’t talk about that" because, far from being an answer, that phrase oscillates between escapism, condescension, and ignorance, making any dialogue impossible.

But why people say, "You can’t talk about that"? An intellectually honest person expressing that affirmation would say something like "That is an issue that, within the framework of my beliefs, values, and doctrines, I prefer to avoid".

However, such a level of honesty doesn’t exist, and, on the contrary, the statement, "That issue is not open for conversation" is repeated in a myriad of variations, including "Those questions are not to be asked", and "Things are as they are and you just have to accept it."

It is true that my mentor never answered my questions, but he did it for didactic and pedagogical reason. He was fully aware of his approach and he used it to guide me from the ignorance reflected and expressed in my questions to a better understanding of the questions themselves to make those questions obsolete and to allow other questions to arise, then repeating the cycle.

But I am not talking about not responding as a way of helping the other to understand what he/she is truly saying, but of not responding as a way to end all dialogue or at least to restrict it to reduced limits, that is, to the limits of one's own thought, uncritically acquired and considered in many cases as the very limits of reality.

In that context, all criticism and challenge of the "already known" is unacceptable. Therefore, theological, philosophical, political, historical, or controversial questions -from sexuality to paranormal events- are inadmissible within certain paradigms.

But the paradigms come and go, as masterfully explained by Thomas Kuhn, and, therefore, those issues that "should not be talked about" serve as indications of the limits of the paradigm and as signals of the new paradigm.

Therefore, an attentive look at the forbidden topics is a careful look at the horizon of the prevailing reality and the new dawn beyond that horizon. That attentive look is both deeply contemplative and deeply active. It’s indeed a call to action, to carefully listen to what has been said and not what has been said.

Honestly, I dislike remembering how many times, in my childhood and adolescence, the answers to my questions were, "That's not something to talk about". I can only imagine how different my reality and my future would have been if the answers had been: "That's a good question. Why don’t we look for the answer together? Or, "I do not know the answer, but do not stop asking."

Be that as it may, imposing limits on dialogues and questions, controlling the discourse and the narrative, determining what can be talked about and what can’t be talked about, all that means limiting our own humanity. And that must and deserves to be questioned, because undeniable that’s something to question. 

Go Back