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“Whose are these?” A very simple question with a seemingly simple answer…or a very sobering question with a millennia-old answer that we just can’t seem to find?

Two weeks ago I was at Walt Disney World of all places when I heard the most interesting question, “Whose are these?” On New Year’s Eve there were long lines DSC085382everywhere you looked, but perhaps none was as long as the line for champagne in the French pavilion of Epcot Center. As my mom and I stood waiting for our two glasses of Moet rosé, the bartending-cast member poured a couple of glasses of champagne and posed the question “Whose are these?” to her fellow bartender.

Now to most people the question “Whose are these?” would probably seem pretty straight-forward: who ordered these two glasses of champagne?

But that isn’t how I heard it. I found the question to be rather ironic. “Whose are these?” If we could answer this quite elementary question we could solve many of the world’s most pressing political issues, as well as the irrelevant ones.

From a day to day perspective think about how many times you may use the expression “Whose are these?” You find car keys at a party, Whose are these? You need to know the designer of that awesome pair of pumps, Whose are these? You find earrings that aren’t yours at your boyfriend’s place, Whose are these?

Those were the simple questions.

But how about those issues at the crux of international disputes and violence? Holy gazaLands in the Gaza Strip, Whose are these? For centuries Israel and Palestine have literally raised hell over trying to answer that seemingly simple question.

How about employment. The question “Whose are these” in reference to jobs. Who gets which job, who is entitled to that job, is it ours or should it be outsourced abroad, Whose are these? Are these goods American-made or are they foreign? Whose are these? … and taking that issue to the next level. Immigration. Where are these immigrants coming from and which country are they escaping, Whose are these? Depending on their home country, should they be allowed to seek asylum or is this grounds for deportation, Whose are these?

Finally, how about gun control, keeping the guns in the hands of those with whom they belong. “Whose are these?” Who owns these guns, were they his, or did they belong to his mother? Were they licensed? Should she have had them? How did he get them? Could this tragedy have been prevented? Will future attacks be prevented if we don’t need to ask “Whose are these?”

Next time you hear a “simple question” consider that it may not have a simple answer.