The Case of the Errant Interrogative

A passionate defence of the phrase “What if?”

[Cue the Law and Order theme music]

“The Defence will now give it’s summing up.”

Thank you. Your honour, esteemed member-humans of the jury… I stand before you today to argue that my client, the phrase commonly known as “What if?” is innocent of the heinous crimes of which it has been accused!

A summary of the charges is in order. My learned (and ostensibly human) colleague the prosecutor would have you believe that this simple interrogative is guilty of inciting fear, creating false expectations of failure and otherwise paralyzing men and women around the world into inaction.

By Judge Judy’s robe! To lay such accusations at the feet of this humble inquisitive sentence is as absurd as… something really absurd! Simply put, it’s a big steaming pile of “habeas corpus” if you get my legal drift your honour.

I am arguing that “What if?” is, in fact, the catalyst to more change, innovation and, what I believe the kids call, “groovy stuff,” than any other force in the last five thousand years.

Paired with its partner, “Why not?” (who I’m led to understand is currently participating in a trial of its own) this simple sentence has changed the entire world.

It has put humans on the moon, cured diseases and afflictions affecting millions, sparked technological innovations and helped create countless priceless masterpieces of art, music, literature and theatre.

It allows us to see beyond what society and others think is possible, and encourages exploration, discovery and experimentation.

It allows us to push past our own limitations and create a world we wish to live in.

It opens us up to an endless number of possibilities.

In short, “What if?” has fired the imaginations of the entire human race.

In light of all of that, can you honestly, with clear conscience, say that my client is guilty of fomenting fear in people?

In the name of Perry Mason ladies and gentlebeings NO YOU CANNOT!

Let me conclude with this:

It is not “What if?” that creates fear and paralyzes people. It’s the beliefs we respond with that are at fault.

The question, “What if I fail?” is not in and of itself evil. It simply encourages people to see adversity as the opportunity to learn.

Answers built on limiting beliefs such as “Oh my god everything will fall apart,” etc. are what paralyze people. They provide no positive feedback, no lesson to be learned.

Ladies and gentlebeings of the jury, members of the much maligned press, your honour… When I walked into this courtroom today, treasonous thoughts flashed through my mind. “What if the jury convicts my client? What if I lose?”

Despite this, I did not allow myself to be paralyzed by such queries, because the answer to them all is obvious: “We will all be poorer for it. However, I will have done my best.”

Now I ask you, members of this jury, to do YOUR best.

Consider the possibilities.

The defence… rests.

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