Do you know that game? Where a kid just keeps asking you ‘why’ after every sentence yo say, you keep answering them, and they keep going, “Why?” It’s infuriating. I used to love doing that as a kid. I loved to see the confusion on people’s faces slowly turn into frustration and finally into anger. I was quite the sadist. Only when I grew up and a kid did that to me I realised, after a point, you don’t have the answer, you just want the kid to stop asking you because it’s tough. I hate the question, “Why?” There’s no specific reason but there are a lot of things that you wished you had the answer to but don’t. When someone asks me, “Why?” I quickly run out of reasons and everything stops making any sense.
We’ve all grown up not knowing why we have to do certain things. We’ve all done what we needed to because we were told to do it, even when we wondered why we thought there might be a reason we don’t know. In school, we were taught to answer questions like ‘What and ‘How’ without being told why. When I look back it seems silly, but why is actually a very important question to ask.
As you become increasingly aware of the world, the question, ‘why’ becomes prominent and persistent. Even philosophers can’t agree on one answer to the question, why? They conclude there can be many. Science too can explain only up to an extent after a point we all admit we don’t know the answer and believe that there must be an answer. What if there isn’t one?
We’re constantly chasing after reasons, but we only find the superficial ones, not the deeper meaning. I wish there was an answer I could articulate and win that game against the kid whose smug smile I could do without. Sometimes because it’s unsettling so we decide that may be asking the question is not necessary. We always believe that anything we don’t know doesn’t require our attention because it’s too much effort and we’re scared to find out. Only some go after it but can never really reach it.
Whenever I read the news I am faced with the question because there are incidents that take place without logic, they follow no pattern and it’s impossible to comprehend and dissect. Humans constantly defy evolution by doing things that are out of character for them especially when it comes to crimes. Natural disasters are difficult to make sense of. That’s when it hits you that all your education has only taught you very little.
On the contrary, there are events that occur where it takes seconds to realise the agendas that drove them, but we don’t want to admit it because we’re cowards. Humans decide which reasons are important and which are not. I decide whether a question is worth my time. So if that kid asks me, “Why?” And I know the answer but don’t want to tell the kid, I’ll avoid it or forfeit. Maybe I am too afraid to admit it, maybe I don’t think the kid will get it and I don’t think the kid is ready for it. I decide that, not the kid.
Sometimes it might be better not knowing why, because knowing comes with a responsibility. They say ignorance is bliss. When you know, it’s tough not to think about it. You become the custodian of that answer. A lot of the times, knowing why can determine who has power and who doesn’t, it’s about how and where you use those answers.
It’s easy to ask ‘why’ and it’s tough to answer it. Maybe education today should teach us why, but how can you pass on something you don’t know? Despite knowing why a few things happen I can’t do much to change it when I see agendas on my screen and know exactly why certain people don’t have freedom and why political parties want to control freedom I can’t do much more than cast the right vote.
Knowing why is irrelevant if others don’t know it too and won’t admit it. Now as the world plummets into chaos, and I see the growing lack of justice it makes me more uncertain about how much I know and how much I ought to know. Would it be easier to sleep at night if I didn’t know? Whenever there’s a tragedy we ask ourselves why, but it’s tough to come to terms with. We keep asking why until we come to terms with it and then why doesn’t matter anymore.
It’s so easy for the bright-eyed kid to laugh with a gap in his teeth where his milk tooth fell out and ask me why after every sentence I speak without realising that he’s asking the most important question in the world. He’ll grow up one day having to walk the tightrope of knowing and not knowing, understanding that while there’s a reason, mystery makes life a little more bearable. Kids don’t care why teenagers want to know why and adults pretend they don’t know why.