Rhetorical question: “A question you ask without expecting an answer.”
How can you get off a nonstop flight?
What do you call a bedroom with no bed in it?
What are imitation rhinestones?
How can you tell when it is time to tune your bagpipes?
Just because you don’t expect an answer, that doesn’t mean some fool won’t give one anyway. For instance, I intend to answer why we need rhetorical questions. We need them to remind us that we don’t have to have all the answers. Why do they call them apartments when they are all stuck together? If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular? When things are out of whack, how do we get them back in whack?
We need rhetorical questions when we feel “gut-shot,” as we say in Montana. How can we be so stupid? Are we really this misogynist and racist? We need them when we are wondering what to do next. Is it time to get back to work? Even if we are retired? Have we done our quota of whining before we start doing good again? Isn’t it time we start working together?
We need them when we start counting our blessings at Thanksgiving and realize how much we enjoy our grandchildren and virtual grandchildren (aren’t they the best in the world?) and watching sports with my brothers and close friends (is this fun or what?) and singing with family and friends in our church choir (doesn’t music make you feel deep-down good?)
Kent Millard, a United Methodist pastor in Indianapolis once said, “Gratefulness leads to great fullness.” Giving thanks to God is a way to feel great and to lead a great and grateful life. You don’t believe in any concept of “God?” Then give thanks to the universe, the wonder, the mystery around and in us all. There is something beyond us that brings out the best in us.
My list starts with Pat and family (children, grandchildren, mother, siblings and the outlaws, nieces and nephews, close friends who are part of the family). Is anything better than extended family—especially the ones you choose?
I am thankful for a country where the presidential loser (well, the one who got the most votes by far, but not in the right places) calls on us all to give the president-elect a chance, because that is what we do in a democracy. As a friend from New York, Mark Hampton, wrote:
She knew that smart Bill was a schlock
And that Donald might run out the clock
But when it struck one
And her prospects were done
She just stood ten feet tall – like a rock
Mark added, “Our turn. No more crying. Get back to work.” He could have asked, “Isn’t it time to stop crying and get back to work?” Rhetorical questions can make statements that require action, not answers.
I am grateful we live in a country that can make what I perceive to be serious mistakes and still survive and grope toward doing right again. Maybe “grope” isn’t the right verb, but you know what I’m saying, don’t you? (Another rhetorical question.)
I am thankful for the Rocky Mountains and mountain chickadee babies in our bird house in the spring, and friends everywhere and still being able to help make a difference by doing what we can. I’m just getting started on the list. I bet Pat and I can come up with 100 things that bless our lives as we are driving down to Colorado for Thanksgiving with kids and grandkids. What could be better?
Your turn. It’s time to make your list, give thanks, count your blessings. And then, when you are so happy you can’t stand it, ask, in your most rhetorical voice, “What could be better?” That’s a rhetorical question. What? You can think of lots of good answers to that question? Then why do we need rhetorical questions?