Asking for Liberation | James Baldwin | CGC Question App
by Lori D. Wilson
Liberation comes about only through our willingness to do deep, hard work. The effort begins in our interior landscape, breaking the bonds that hold us captive there. As we ourselves are set free, we can turn to the collective work of liberation in our communities and the world.
While many tools help us engage this difficult work, one stands out as especially crucial: the willingness to ask—and answer—powerful questions. As James Baldwin writes in Notes of a Native Son, “The questions which one asks oneself begin, at last, to illuminate the world, and become one’s key to the experience of others. One can only face in others what one can face in oneself. On this confrontation depends the measure of our wisdom and compassion.”
Baldwin, a Black writer and activist, reminds us that questions help us to see more clearly the realities that imprison us. Questions demand that we confront ourselves and accept only an honest response. Gradually, in the asking and answering, we develop the capacity to see the truth about ourselves with compassion.
As our own inner realities are revealed, we grow our ability to see others with clarity as well. Questions help open our eyes to the realities of their lived experiences, and to observe with compassion all the ways that they, too, have been held captive. As we ask, we discover that our inability to listen has kept us apart from one another and effectively shut down our ability to work together for our common good.
Powerful questions hold the key to meaningful connections, and they empower us to build the kinds of honest relationships that can change the world. As we learn to engage together with wisdom and compassion, we can become collaborators in bringing about liberation for our communities and beyond.
Powerful questions like these don’t happen by accident. A new app—currently in development—helps you find the kinds of questions that build honest and powerful connections. Our pilot version helps you ask meaningful questions of yourself and your family, in a wide variety of contexts.