Dare to Ask: Four years of daring pursuits
By Phillip J. Milano
The Florida Times-Union
Why do you write this (choose one, preferably C): A) embarrassing, B)
offensive, C) fascinating column, anyway?
Many different people, Earth
That's an interesting question, but it would mean I'd have to blatantly
insert myself into the conversation here at Dare to Ask, and as we all know, I
just don't do that, being the dispassionate observer and objective moderator
that I am.
However, if you're going to twist my arm into being a blowhard...
And since we are celebrating the fourth anniversary of Dare to Ask...
And since I get asked this question all the time from people of all different
ages and backgrounds who either loathe or love what I'm doing...
Let me think on it, and get back to you, because I would hate breaking with
OK, I'll do it.
I reek at figuring out what's going on around me by looking at things through
the lenses of other people. Translation: I just don't get what other folks are
all about and can't put myself in their shoes too well. In fact, I'm pretty sure
I've lost good friends and ticked off family members because of it.
I don't think that was always true. As a kid, I feel I did it pretty well,
but then I'd get bitten on the butt after being so "nice," as can happen to
whipper-snappers in the sharp-toothed jungle of youth.
So, anyway, I just stopped doing it. Then, get this: I actually forgot there
was a reason to put myself in other people's shoes. Not to get too Freudian, but
that's a bad dream, isn't it?
So, in one way, Dare to Ask is a weekly way to wake myself up (and maybe a
few others like me) and say: "I can do this again. I can, as a grown-up big
person, try to learn why other people have the gall to act in a way that seems
super-weird, because I don't act that way."
Another thing I hold to, and this may sound sacrilegious to some: The absence
of a known doesn't always mean the answer can't be found, through a relentless,
often ponderous and sometimes beautiful search.
The danger, for me, is to supplant this unknown with myth and mystery, and
then to simply move on. That's no way to live.
Without knowing why I was doing it (I'm only hitting upon the personal
reasons now), I began yforum.com more than a decade ago. It's the cross-cultural
Web site that spawns much of the dialogue for Dare to Ask.
That site, and this column, offer me a non-terrorist fist pound when I feel
down or that I've failed to "get" other people.
That's about it. I'm not out to scare or offend anyone, just to keep driving
home the idea -- uncomfortable as it may be -- that despite our similarities, we
all see things just a little differently from one another. The sooner we agree
on that, the easier we'll get past it.
So I will continue to bring you Dare to Ask, if only to force myself to keep
trying to see weird things another way.
I know that the sooner I can do that, the sooner I'll be more at peace. Isn't
that what we all want for ourselves and each other?
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also hear his
podcasts or watch his