Where’s The Beef?

A humorous Wendy’s ad teaches wisdom.

“Where’s the beef?” was a phenomenally successful advertising campaign for Wendy’s hamburgers in 1984. I was 24 years old then and I still remember that funny ad and its famous catchphrase, “Where’s the beef?” Here is one example:

Like virtually all of these type of catchy and funny phrases, “Where’s the beef?” has infinite other possibilities of meaning that a creative mind might conjure up.

For some reason, I thought of this ad slogan when writing the last post for this “Divorce and PAS” section of my blog and I believe it has a beautiful application to the subject matter.

How? Because I think my daughter Aimie (not her real name), and in fact, all three of my daughters, need to ask this great question—“Where’s the beef?”—whenever they hear yet another lie about me. In fact, they would do well to ask this question each and every time they have been told something about me in the past, as well.

“Where’s the beef?” could also be translated as, “Where’s the evidence?” or “Where’s the proof?” or “Where’s the facts?” whenever yet another allegation or story is told about me.

“A mind with no questions is a mind that is not intellectually alive. No questions (asked) equals no understanding (achieved). Superficial questions equal superficial understanding, unclear questions equal unclear understanding. If your mind is not actively generating questions, you are not engaged in substantive learning.”

“The Art of Asking Essential Questions,” by Dr. Linda Elder and Dr. Richard Paul, page 3.

I mentioned in my last post my bewilderment about Aimie and how she so easily accepts the zany stories that have been told about me without seeming to demand the slimmest sliver of proof for these false allegations. And the same is true for my other daughters as well: it seems that each of them are willing to believe just about anything anybody has to say about me except for one person: myself.

Of course, I can’t blame them too much, for I’m guilty of the same deficiency in my own thinking. I remember one conversation I had with a student down at the University of AZ where I spent decades seeking to proselytize them into the Christian faith.

A student suddenly asked me, “Roy, you don’t really believe in talking snakes, do you?” He was referring, of course, to the alleged creation story found in Genesis chapter 3. I was taken aback because I had never, up to that point, questioned this story and always believed it was true—exactly like I believed all the other biblical myths.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally started asking myself, “Where’s the beef?” concerning many of these bible stories I had always believed in to be true. I never considered the possibility that many of them (if not all of them) might be stories made up, like the Greek mythological tales of Hercules, Zeus, Hector, Achilles, etc.

It has been fascinating for me to realize how blind and careless I have been in certain areas of my thinking, while at the same time so careful and methodical in others. Specifically, why was I so willing to take for granted, without demanding proof, for the stories found in the Bible, while I demanded rigorous proof from all the phony faith preachers so prevalent on that bane of society, Christian television?

“Because we cannot be skilled at thinking unless we are skilled at questioning, we strive for a state of mind in which essential questions become second nature. They are the keys to productive thinking, deep learning, and effective living.”

Ibid, page 3.

A greater example of my hypocrisy and sloppy thinking was my demand for proof of evolution while at the same time not demanding the same level of scrutiny for biblical creation. Again, it is so mysterious how we can be so blind in some areas without realizing just how blind we actually are.

So, I’m not angry at my kids for not asking the hard question of “Where’s the beef?” when they are confronted with all the insane stories told about me over the decades because I have done the same thing in areas of my life as well. Life is a continual learning experience. And the proper and consistent use of critical thinking skills are essential to achieving “the good life.”