Ask Me Why

Inspired by StoryCorps National Day of Listening, the Illinois Humanities Council has partnered with WBEZ-Chicago to present "Ask Me Why", a collection of interviews featuring pairs of individuals who disagree on an issue, taking turns asking each other questions in order to better understand each other and their position. 

In 2011, we have more opportunities to express ourselves than any generation since the beginning of time. We can write to the newspaper, go to town hall meetings, e-mail our opinions to newscasters or our friends.  We can blog, Tweet, text, post on Facebook, or upload a video to You Tube.  There is certainly no shortage of outlets for self-expression. Yet with all of these outlets encouraging us to talk, are we forgetting how to listen, how to understand? Are we just thinking about our next point, our next argument? And how do these circumstances shape the quality of our public deliberations on the issues and challenges we face nation-wide and in our communities?

"Ask Me Why" features pairs of people who agreed to have their conversation recorded - but with a bit of a twist. We told our pairs they couldn’t debate, argue or challenge a point. They could only take turns asking each other questions, and listening to the answers. The goal would be, not to make a point or counterpoint, but to better understand why the other person thinks the way they do. What personal experiences shaped their opinion on this issue? Did they always have this opinion and if not, what changed their mind on the issue? Where do they get information that guides their opinion on the issue?

Ask Me Why: National Day of Listening
Can we change the way we talk to one another, especially when we disagree?
Friday, November 26, 2010
Click here to hear an excerpt from the conversation & read the full post.

Ask Me Why: The individual vs. society
Is it more important to be true to yourself or to be a good citizen?
Friday, December 10, 2010
Click here to hear an excerpt from the conversation & read the full post.

Ask Me Why: Cars vs. bikes
Do cyclists deserve the same rights as cars on the streets of Chicago?
Friday, December 24, 2010
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Ask Me Why: Is gay marriage worth fighting for?
Two lesbians offer two different answers.
Friday, January 7, 2011
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Ask Me Why: Does God exist?
Two classmates delve into the divine.
Friday, January 21, 2011
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Ask Me Why: Do the Jews need Israel?
A rabbi and his congregant mull the state of the Jewish state.
Friday, February 4, 2011
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Ask Me Why: Navigating extremism
Friends revisit a painful debate from years past.
Friday, February 25, 2011
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Ask Me Why: To forgive, but not forget
Friday, March 18, 2011
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Ask Me Why: What good is a union?
Friday, April 15, 2011
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Ask Me Why: Should we open U.S. borders?
Friday, May 27, 2011
Click here to hear an excerpt from the conversation & read the full post.

Ask Me Why is produced in collaboration with the Illinois Humanities Council, and was made possible by a grant from The Boeing Company. If you and someone you know are interested in participating in this series, you can download the application form here.