Keep Asking ‘Why?’
If you’re not finished asking ‘why’, then you’re not finished!
I’m sure you remember the times when you heard a child ask the first ‘why?’ The parent pauses and gives a quick answer. And the child says ‘why?’ again. The parent digs a bit deeper and gives a more comprehensive answer. And the child says ‘why?’ again. It’s amazing how long a child can continue with this sincere curiosity. No matter the answer, they seem to find a way to take parents just a wee bit deeper.
Do we lose that curiosity as we get older? Do we stop asking ‘why?’
I’m working with a group in our community that has brought together a group of community leaders to look into the Mental Health issues that are prevalent in our community, as they are in communities around the world. Every time I participate I find myself asking ‘why?’
Why is there such a prevalence of mental health issues?
Why does it seem so easy to diagnose and so hard to solve?
Why are we not finding answers?
Why is the system so hard to navigate?
I had a sidebar conversation with a doctor who has been part of several groups that are looking into these issues, and I asked a simple ‘why’ type question. “It seems like there is a lot of work going into figuring out how to get more and more treatment to people diagnosed with mental health issues, is there any work being done to figure out how to get to the root cause?” I thought it was a pretty obvious question to ask, and as much as I suspected that it wasn’t really being asked, I silently hoped that I was wrong.
The answer that came back was “the only real research we have is coming from the pharmaceuticals …” My heart sunk. And I asked myself ‘why?’ And then I responded, somewhat downtrodden, “that doesn’t sound like a conflict of interest.”
It would be very easy for me to go on a tirade, but the simple truth is that I have a lot more questions than I have answers. And I also don’t think that choosing sides and throwing darts at each other gets us any closer to solution. But I do wonder if we have stopped asking ‘why?’ I wonder if we have lost our sense of curiosity. I wonder if we have buried our best problem solving capabilities simply because we’ve stopped asking ‘why?’
I have made a lot of connections with people who have experienced mental health issues and have heard lots of stories of people that have “come out the other side”. I know and have connected with lots of people that are asking the ‘why’ questions and are sharing their stories simply to make a difference.
I know mothers that have children with autism and they keep wondering whether the vaccines their children were given were a contributor or a cause of the autism. I know mothers that believe that processed food (or food-like substances as I like to refer to them) and genetically modified food laced with pesticides are contributing to their kids mood swings, lashing out, and other “bad” behaviour. I also know that many of these people have taken action by radically changing diets and routines and found that they have ‘a whole new child’, all symptoms have disappeared.
I know doctors and scientists that are questioning the effectiveness of the pharmaceutical, treatment-based approach to dealing with mental health and other health issues, questioning the side effects and wondering ‘why’ we’re not looking into root cause.
None of these are people that I would apply the label ‘crazy’ to.
I could go on and on, but this is NOT a tirade. How did you feel when you saw the word ‘vaccine’, or ‘GMO’, or ‘pharmaceutical’? In my experience, every time any of these conversations starts, the battle lines get drawn, people take sides and ready themselves for the fight. They will educate the other side. They will prove that they are ‘right’.
And I simply pause and ask ‘why?’
My friend and colleague Andrea Beaman shared a post last week that really struck a chord with me. I encourage you to pop over and read “Death of a Genius”. And as much as it struck a chord with me, that is not to suggest that I am choosing a side and readying myself for a fight. I simply ask you to read with curiosity and your own sense of ‘why’.
I firmly believe that we will not solve our social issues, be they mental health, poverty, high rates of dis-ease and an overburdened, unsustainable healthcare system, or otherwise until we remember those days when we were 2 years old and start asking ‘why’. Masking symptoms is not the answer. Choosing sides and ‘winning’ is not the answer. What is the answer?
Can you dig a bit deeper?
You’re not finished until you can stop asking ‘why’?
But when you can, you just might have the answer.
Will you share it?
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Great blog, Ken. And, such a GREAT question… why?
Thanks so much Andrea.
I completely related to this Ken, particularly the mood swing in kids. To me it’s so obvious and get a little sad when parents don’t see it as clearly as I do.
Thanks Paul, I know what you mean.
Asking why invites us to dig down deeper. Children, as you mentioned, are naturally curious and are not satisfied until they know and understand the why (cause) behind the what (effect). We’d do well to emulate them. Digging down, though, can reveal more than what we want or are ready to know, understand, and accept. All sorts of silly notions can get in the way of asking why and working toward and waiting patiently for answers. May we look at the world through the curiosity of children, and continue to ask why, no matter what. Doing so truly brings this existence to life!
Well said Midge, thanks for sharing.