Asking the question “why?” and pursuing an answer stridently will make all of our lives more honest, productive, healthy and happy. Just as a child will ask about 4 or 5 repetitions of “but why?”, so should we as adults concerning life in general.
Sure you still need to know who, what, when and where along with why. Of course who is doing what, when and where can be beneficial information to know while reporting material; during a decision making process; while investigating something; or as sheer entertainment. But try asking “why?” immediately.
For example – a most recent news article headline reads, “New concern worldwide as nurse in Spain gets Ebola”. In this instance the “who” is a nurse, the “what” concerns the Ebola virus, the “when” is now and the ”where” is Spain. Why did the nurse get Ebola? Why now after protocols have been established to prevent further spread? Why in Spain? Why isn’t anyone taking responsibility for stopping this outbreak?
I know, this questioning “why?” has the potential to quickly become obnoxious and awfully tedious, and at the very worst the root cause of a dark and deep level of cynicism. Also why can be the most aggressive word in the English language. The one posing the question can be seen as demanding an explanation that can make the recipient decidedly uncomfortable.
Scientifically speaking though, asking why is an iterative question-asking technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem, with the primary goal of the technique being to determine the root cause of usually a defect or problem. But it can also be applied to a benefit, blessing and any circumstance. Why did this laptop stop working? Why am I so happy? Why, chicken…WHY?
A simpler example – The actor Will Smiths new movie “Blah, Blah, Blah” will be the summer blockbuster of 2015. Again, the “who”, Will Smith; the “what” a summer blockbuster movie; “when” will be the summer months of 2015; and the “where” is a theatre near you. Why do I need to see another Will Smith movie? Why is he a celebrity and I’m not? Why spend the money when movie ticket prices are so expensive?
The two above who, what, when, where examples are just illustrations, and the answers to each of the why questions posed will differ from person to person. The point is that we can and should all ask why questions concerning every important aspect of our individual and collective lives.
Why do I love my job? I don’t. Well why do I work here? Because, I need the money. Why not do something you like to get money? Because, it’s hard to find a new job. Why? BECAUSE of the economy you jerk! Why am I a jerk for asking questions that make you take a look at your life? Ok then, why is the economy bad? You get the picture…
Simply having any answer to the question why, whether it’s accurate, transparent or even truthful, is the beginning and first step to determining a response or even a solution concerning whatever it is you really want accomplished. Why is the economy so bad? We cannot know everything about everything, and so we must rely on others to answer our why questions, and this can be a risky proposition.
Yet we must courageously ask “why?” Ask this economic question of the correct authority and listen to the answer. The asking or answering of why questions puts each and every individual in a position of responsibility, whether it’s wanted or not. Why questions and answers will identify the content of a person’s character.
Imagine all civil discourse were started by asking why, and then we insightfully and intelligently seek the answers to all of the whys, rather than asking: who is to blame; what will it cost; when will it be done; how will it be done.
So we should all be asking why, perhaps on a daily basis if necessary. It’s an opportunity for truth to be set free, and meaningful conversations to take place. I mean, why did you read this article? And if you don’t agree with me, why not?