I Have Questions

The foundation for critical thinking is asking questions: Who? What? When? Where? How? and Why? In this introspective Op-Ed, Brad Beck shares a variety of “whys” that he ruminates upon. Brad notes that the need for asking why is foundational to understanding a cause, a purpose or a reason for something even if we are not ready for the answer.

Why? Three letters that every kid learns when they are beginning to question the world around them.  Why do I have to put on my shoes?  Why do I have to eat spinach? Why do I have to go to bed now? All questions your kids or you have asked, often with the adult reply, “Because I said so”, not really the best answer. The need for asking why is foundational to understanding a cause, a purpose or a reason for something even if we are not ready to hear the answer. Since the dawn of early mankind, I suppose our ancestors asked why?

Like these hominids, I have more questions than answers. To many of these why questions there is no good answer, yet we continue to ask.

There are humorous whys. Why is my hair falling out? Why do my pants not fit me anymore? Why does someone keep misplacing my keys?

There are fun whys. Why don’t we go to the movies? Why not have another cookie? Why shouldn’t we skip to the park? Why not dance all night?

There are parental whys. Why did you not make your bed? Why did you not take out the trash? Why did you leave only a drop of milk in the carton?

There are serious whys. Why did you lie to me? Why are you not following up? Why did you miss the deadline? Why don’t you care?

There are political whys. Why am I paying these taxes? Why should I vote for you? Why aren’t you following the principles you swore to uphold? Why aren’t you protecting my individual rights?

There are hurtful whys. Why aren’t you like so and so? Why don’t you listen to me? Why can’t you follow directions? Why are you such an idiot?

There are helpful whys. Why don’t we learn this together? Why don’t you let me chip in? Why not make this happen so we can both benefit?

There are public policy whys. Why is there so much less extreme poverty today? Why are free markets better for people than socialism? Why do I need to ask the government permission to open a business?  Why do I have to register a firearm if it is my duty to protect myself?

There are philosophical whys. Why am I here? Why is there so much discontent? Why is there hatred? Why can’t we be friends? Why is freedom better than force? Why do we die?

Why is at the core of what it is to be. Why is front and center. Why allows us to understand. Why is simple, yet so complex. Why gets to the heart of the matter.

Out of the cardinal words for asking questions such as who, what, where, and when only why leads to more whys.  I imagine if there was a better word, we would use it. So, why not ask more whys. Perhaps we would all be better off asking it more often. After all, when you were a kid and asked why you couldn’t have the candy in the check-out line for the fifth time your parents either threatened to discipline you, gave in so you would shut up, or the wise parent left you in a hot-mess, crying until you found out you were left behind. Sometimes why kicks our butt. Sometimes why gives in and gives us answers.  Sometimes we are just left in a hot mess to cry. Other times there are just no answers.

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