I think everyone is curious on some level. That is, they will ask a question when there is something they don’t know or understand. But that doesn’t mean they’re curious.
When someone is “curious,” that means they’re not just curious, but they’ll follow through. They will ask the second, third or maybe the fourth question. And if they are not satisfied, they will pursue the case until they know more.
In terms of fairly recent American history, the example of President George HW Bush against his son, George W. Bush, is instructive. The first Bush was on his way to Baghdad with our army and our allies, but he asked the second or third question: who will be with us until the end? Who will run the country if we take him? How much will it cost? He stopped the army on the road to Baghdad.
His son did not ask any of these questions. Those around him said: “The Iraqi people will welcome us with open arms. “Unlike before, we will crush Saddam Hussein.” “We should finish what your father started,” etc
Now, decades later, we have a failed state in Iraq with many thousands of American casualties to prove it, and over a trillion dollars spent on a lost cause. Being curious matters.
I’ve often thought that successful businessmen (women) are also the ones who are curious. “I know we’ve sold a lot of product this year, but what if we have a downturn next year?” “I can read the financial statements, but what is their substance? » “Is there a way to do more with less?”
Obviously, inventors and scientists must be curious. You don’t discover something new without asking yourself a lot of questions.
In the larger pattern of American history, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt were known to appoint advisers who held different opinions or even different political affiliations from their own in order to uncover the truth. They asked a lot of questions.
However, the American president who strikes me as probably our most curious was Thomas Jefferson. If you’ve ever visited his farm in Monticello, you can see the inventions he was working on, the books he was reading, what he had in mind.
He was able to imagine a government other than that controlled by a British monarch and put those ideas in writing.
However, I always thought the most curious side of Jefferson came with his push to buy the Louisiana Purchase from the French. He knew it was big, but what size? To figure this out, he got Congress to agree to outfit Lewis and Clark and send them on a mission down the Missouri River to an end no one knew about.
Two years later, they reappeared after crossing the Continental Divide and into the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson always wanted to know what was on the horizon. You can only do this by asking more questions and seeking more truth. Being curious is good!
Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident and former New York State Assemblyman.