It seems like such an innocent question.
Children ask it, after all.
“Why is the sky blue?”
That’s the one people always reference, right?
And most of us don’t outgrow that need to question, that need to know, even when applied to larger questions, like:
Why isn’t life fair?
Why do people suffer?
Such a seemingly simple question. Three small letters. One of the first questions we ever ask and possibly the only question countless individuals have dedicated their lives to attempting to answer. For can’t entire religions and political platforms be traced back to that small but powerful syllable – why?
And why is it that this question holds such power over us? Why will we gather blindly around anyone who seems to have an inkling of an answer, even following without question just to have a reprieve from asking ourselves? You see – I can’t even attempt to get to the bottom of the problem without invoking the word myself. Why?
Children ask it in an endless stream, to be placated by their parents with “Because I said so,” or even just “Because.” But eventually that stops being enough for us – if in fact it ever was.
So why do we need to know why?
Do we think that another iota of knowledge will somehow ease our fears or stop our pain? Knowing why doesn’t change the present, so what do we hope to gain by its answer? Reasoning to craft into a narrative and tie up into a little package, perhaps. Confirmation of our worst fears or maybe just the opposite if we’re lucky. We think that life must be ruled by cause/effect and we live it as such, making up excuses for why bad things might have happened to us that we think we don’t deserve. Karma. Original sin. The bourgeoisie. We take such comfort in stories – why else are you here? – and I think that deep down, we’re all just a little bit terrified to think that life might just be unfair, chaotic, unreasonable.
We pound the word into the heavens, demanding an answer that may never come. We’ll make up lessons learned from it, or reasons we deserved it whether we have to go to a past life our our future to find them.
But maybe, all along, the answer really was