With a Conscience: The Power of "Why"

"He who has a why to live can bear almost any how." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

When I was a kid, my most favorite word was, "Why?" I wanted to know why the grass was green. Why was the sky blue? Why did I have a bed time curfew and my friends didn't? Why did I have everything on my plate? Why are scrambled eggs gross? Why is broccoli gross? The word "Why" is the single most important word we learn. My real question is, "Why do we squelch the wisdom of "Why?"

Mom's favorite response to me whenever I asked a question was, "Because, honey. That's just the way it is." We can't possibly have the answers to everything that crosses our inquisitive path but lately it seems as though the art of asking "Why" has been lost. We say want our children to become critical thinkers but I am witness to complacency and apathy and I ask, "Why?"

Truthfully, they very rarely ask "Why" and I so long for them to take that step. Let me just say for the record that if I had asked "Why" with more regularity I would surely be in a different position than I am today. Not that I'm whining but I do want to know "why" many of us are so complacent. Have we forgotten the power of "why?"

The questions we raise become as important as we search for the answers. Just when we think we have found reasons why this is so or that are so, we relegate to a new understanding and more questions begin to surface. This is our personal journey or quest. Here are my questions, raised only recently with the holidays approaching and the news being what it is...My "Whys?"

• Why are politics so nasty? Why has the number of people qualified to vote decreasing each political year? Hmmm... are the two questions somewhat related to each other? Hmmm...Why do we vote the same people into office year after year and have absolutely nothing to show for it?

• Why aren't we developing simpler ways to manage our health care needs? My God, the amount of paperwork generated over a simple mammogram made my head spin this year. We could discuss my drug plan too but I need to take a crash course in algebra and trigonometry to be able to figure out deductibles and caps and well...EVERYTHING else! Note to self: Pay every bill with a debit card. No one argues with a debit card.

• Why can't I find two socks that match?

• Why can I eat pizza any time, any place?

• Why in this day and age is there racism of any kind? Someone please explain this to me because as I grew up in the 60s and 70s I watched so many be assassinated in the name of civil rights.

• Why in this day and age is there hunger anywhere in the world? Why have we disregarded eating the old-fashioned way? By growing the things we eat and by doing what my mother did all of the time which was to bake and cook from scratch...

• Why did I start to lose weight by not going on a "diet"?

• Why am I spending a ton of money to cover my gray hair when clearly, I should be able to keep my hair color at least until I'm 80? P.S. My hair dresser tells me that I am "so not ready" to go gray and I'm inclined to believe her. This is why I must tip her.

• How come I can vacuum my house and see dust mites surface literally in 24 hours?

• Why won't my electric company make it easier to pay them? Everyone else has an automatic debit card/credit card payment option except my electric company. They can't wait for us to pay them. However, when the power is out we're expected to wait days and days for the power to come back on when there's an outage. They can wait...just like we do.

• Why do we have a war waging on education? Let's be honest here. By the time we reach 8th grade we get tired of public education. Let's learn a trade then. The rest of the world does this and they extend the school day to those who show academic prowess. Education is not the enemy. A lack of jobs and services is the enemy and public education can NOT solve every social blip on the national radar.

• Why do we forget about gratitude?

• Why do we prey on the weaknesses of others rather than make them see their strengths?

As I get older, I have a billion more questions, more so than when I was four years old if that's possible. I love the word "Why." I love it more as I age because I'm no longer afraid of the answers. I want the challenge of finding those answers. It feeds my soul and the more I ask "Why?" the more I feel vitalized. This is why we have so much to grateful for in our modern world. Because so many asked "Why," so many were willing to make sacrifices because they found and understood the answers.