Keep Asking Why

Little kids are great.

“Why is the sky blue?” “Why do I have to wear this?” “Why does your face look like that?” (OK maybe not so great with that last one.)

Their insatiable curiosity has conditioned most adults to respond in kneejerk “Because” statements. “Because it is.” “Because it’s cold out.” “Because I was born this way!”

At some point in our lives, we’ve transitioned from asking “why” to saying “because”. Is it the feeling that others are expecting an answer from us? Is it that once we asked “why” once, we accept that answer, unquestioningly, for eternity?

You can’t tell me you didn’t believe something for far too long because some sarcastic adult once answered your “why”.

Imagine if a child asked his parent how trees grow so tall. The parent, feeling funny, says the tree takes steroids. Now imagine if that child never asked “why” again. Not only would they continue for far too long with a false understanding, but they’re likely to share that information with others.

It’s so important to continue asking why.

When it comes to understanding people and their drivers, there is far more nuance and depth than a simple “because” answer can adequately convey. And yet we try.

“Republicans only want to help rich people because they’re greedy.”

“Democrats only want to help poor people because they’re lazy.”

Do you really believe these words—”greedy” and “lazy”—give an accurate understanding of millions of people, their backgrounds, their aspirations, and their philosophies?

Continue asking why. Why do Republicans focus on financial independence? Why do Democrats believe so strongly in government assistance?

And when you feel that you’ve come across a “because”, ask why again.

Be cautious about switching from “why” to “because” too quickly. You may believe trees take steroids.

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