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Why We Do This

Consider yourself a volunteer in a unique experiment that’s making headlines across the world by daring people to talk about their differences.

Dare to Aks starts where other sites, blogs, books or speakers leave off: that moment when, after all the sensitivity training and cultural education, we come face to face and wonder if we can talk about the fundamental things that make us different from each other.

These basic distinctions can sometimes make for squirmy questions. Why do we talk, eat, dress, read, believe — even smell — the way we do? If we can’t ask these kinds of simple, even mundane questions of each other, how are we supposed to discuss the so-called larger issues of the day, like civil rights, gay rights, gun rights, politics, war, terrorism, poverty or myriad other topics?

Ultimately, it’s in the asking that we start to learn how much or little we know about other people, and to slowly start replacing misconception with information. Feeling safe enough to risk exposing our innocence, ignorance or even arrogance is what Dare To Aks is all about.

As for why I personally began this quest, here’s how I put it in my newspaper column:

[It’s] a way to wake myself up (and maybe a few others like me) and say: “I can do this … 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.

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.

That’s about it. Dare To Aks has no agenda or cause other than to get people talking authentically and candidly across their differences — a running dialogue we believe has yet to fully unfold through the conventional media or on social media.

So take a chance. Ask that question you’ve been too embarrassed or uncomfortable to ask. Or open someone else’s eyes with a reply. You may finally discover that you’re not alone when you wonder, “Am I the only one who feels this way?”

Phillip J. Milano, Director