Asking Why

Image: Moody sunrise over Johnstone Strait.

Why is the hardest question you will ever ask. It will change your perspective, and ultimately, if you choose to seek the answer, it will change your life.

The young are innately curious. We start asking questions at a very early age. I’m sure we’ve all known some young child who seems to ask why every second sentence. Asking questions is a very healthy process, and helps young children learn about the world around them. But what happens to us as we get older? It seems like our curiosity is blunted. We stop asking why. Why?

I’m sure many of us have experienced evasive answers, particulary from those in positions of power. “You don’t need to know”, they say, “Don’t worry about that, we’ll take care of it.” Will they? Or bluntly, “It’s none of your business.” Really? However, faced with these sorts of responses, its often easiest to retreat, to stop asking questions, to lose our curiosity, and ultimately to lose our voices.

However, sometimes our curiosity can be revitalized. Maybe we’ve undergone a life-changing, eye-opening event. Maybe we’re tired of hearing the same old, same old … Maybe what we are being told just doesn’t match up with reality. Whatever the case, our curiosity emerges from the sea of mundane like some long lost sea beast, and we croak “Why”. “Why are our governments ignoring global warming when it is obvious that global warming is occurring right now?” “Why is our ‘democracy’ ruled by minority interests?” “Why is industry allowed to alter and destroy huge pieces of our country, while the average citizen can’t even hope to own a piece of land?” “Why are all the systems which are supposed to look after the people, like health care, starting to fail?” The list of why’s is endless.

Asking why is the beginning, but it is not enough. Real change takes place when you start seeking the answers to why. Not the pat, simple answers that the system wants you to believe, but the real answers. Ask the people who should know – the scientists, the educators, the tradespeople, the people who are working on the ground. But be prepared, the answers may change your life forever. And another thing … once you start asking why, you will never be able to stop. It’s an addiction. To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”