I have a pet peeve with phrase, “I don’t know”. Not with the concept per se, because there are SO many things I don’t know. I use the phrase myself frequently. My issue with “I don’t know” is when it is used as an end rather than a beginning.
For instance, when I am in a store and ask a clerk a question, I am dismayed when the response is a flat “I don’t know” that clearly ends the conversation. On the other hand, I feel hopeful and encouraged when the tone of the “I don’t know” implies that the person is going to find out the answer for me.
“I don’t know” is an okay place to be when we view it as an invitation to wonder and brainstorm and research and innovate.
In our current reality, “I don’t know” is alive and well.
What will school look like in the fall? We are getting a better idea of the possible scenarios, but in the end I don’t really know yet.
Will the current unrest with racism result in lasting changes in the United States? I don’t know, but I am going to do my part to make sure it is a movement rather than a moment.
Will COVID-19 close schools again next year? I don’t know, but I do know that we can get through hard things when we have each others’ backs.
So, let’s practice together the different ways we can say, “I don’t know.”
Say, “I don’t know,” as if you are ending a conversation, in a flat tone.
Say, “I don’t know, ” in a wondering tone, inflecting up on the “know”.
Say, “I don’t know,” as if you are absolutely determined to find out and become better because you did.
What others ways could you say, “I don’t know?”
Which way feels best to you? Which response leaves you and others with hope? What if we all responded to the things we don’t know as a beginning rather than an end? As the start of something that might not be the same as it was before, but will be okay because we are in it together? And, sometimes, even though we can’t imagine it, what we end up with is even better than before.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. -Hebrews 6:19
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