curiosity... a privilege?
“The aim of the project is to encourage curiosity,” I told him. “If we can approach the world around us with curiosity instead of immediate judgment, perhaps we’d have a more constructive public space.”
Of course this has to be true... Who would say otherwise? Apparently, the gentleman I was talking with. His response was one I wasn’t ready for.
He said some people can’t afford to be curious. These people work extensive hours for minimal pay to support their family. They don’t have the time, the energy, the luxury of being curious. You, he said referring to me, have the privilege to be curious.
I’d never heard this response. I’d never pondered this and couldn’t rally my thoughts fast enough to give much of a reply. But I knew his words didn’t sit right with me.
If we sequester ourselves into believing we can only be curious once we’ve achieved security (economic or otherwise), we further burry ourselves in an increasingly dismal circumstance. Curiosity is, in fact, the greatest force for mobility. It’s the act of grappling with what we’re unfamiliar with which has the ability to take us out of our current situation, preferable or not, and allows us to perceive with a new lens.
Curiosity need not and must not be afforded only to those of affluence.
Sure, exercising curiosity has the likely potential of highlighting the complexity of the world and the people in it. Honestly grappling with this complexity is by no means a simple task and requires a great deal of personal investment. But it’s freely available, regardless of ones position in society.
Perceiving the world solely through the lens of economic security, making the claim that ones ability to engage with the world is dependent only upon their economic status, does nothing but perpetuate current states of despotism, helplessness, and hypocrisy.
The recognition of ones ability to exercise curiosity brings with it liberation, empowerment, motivation, and individual agency. This is the figurative doormat from which we leave to set out on the journey toward a more constructive public environment.
Curiosity must be our guide, both as individuals and collectively.