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Why We Say "Because"

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“Because” is the place where experience ends and faith begins.

Children have two ways of discovering how the universe works: one is to experiment, and the other is to ask “why.” The result is a complex series of if-then conditions that tell a child what can be done, and what can’t, creating flags that are used later to navigate the environment.

We’ve already talked about the first type– now let’s talk about the second.

Children don’t ask why to be careful with a knife if they’ve already cut themselves– they only ask with something that is outside their experience, that is abstract. This is the evolution of because, an if-then condition that is outside of experience, and that we don’t really understand.

The danger of because is that we take things on faith because it comes from an authority. As time goes on and our understanding advances, more of our questions now have actual answers, but the because remains anyway.

God is because. Zeus is why the lightning strikes and good people die but God has a plan for them.

Science can be because. We have faith in doctors who reflexively prescribe medicine instead of get to the root cause, and don’t get second opinions.

Dogma and rules are because. Gay is wrong because it is against nature, and you need to eat breakfast because it’s the most important meal of the day.

Everytime we don’t understand something, because takes its place and we stop there instead of testing. We have faith in the system, even though its purpose is to sustain itself, not to help you.

This is a way that the social system has protected itself since the beginning of time, ensuring that we can work together to build a better world. This works for the system that we live in and can make our lives better, but if you don’t want to be a middle manager, it may leave you feeling incomplete. It isn’t the only way.

You can be outside the system, and you can live well doing it. But your first step will be to ignore because… and to start asking why again.

* Filed by at 6:05 am under clear thinking, culture, random


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8 Responses to “Why We Say "Because"”

  1. Ben powell Says:

    The majority don’t ask why because thats the way that’s have always done things around here.

    You also cant forget the fear of the unknown… people may not ask why because the outcome may not be as predictable then following the dogma of because.

    B

  2. Yvon Bayonne Says:

    Brillant.
    I think asking How rather than Why is more helpful. Why/because can always be gathered.

  3. CT Moore Says:

    RE: living outside the system. Don’t forget what the man said: “To live outside the law you must be honest.”

  4. cristina Says:

    Interesting way of saying it. Do you know this article:
    “Whys and Excuses” from Harry Palmer ?
    It is related to this matter and imbricates it with the personal responsibility.

  5. Lisa D Jenkins Says:

    I’ve recently started choosing another phrase when I hear “because”. I’ve started saying, “in the cause of”, and it is helping me ensure that the the point I’m homing in on is as complete as possible.

    Uncomfortable? Perhaps, but I”m finding that the more I dig to find the root cause behind an answer that begins with because, the easier it is to sift facts from the deluge of opinions offered as fact.

    I’m learning who really knows what; who isn’t afraid to admit that they don’t know but are willing to look for an answer.

  6. Whitney Says:

    I also look at “Because” as a setting of the table- a putting things in context, even more than providing a rationale or excuse. Also the best “Why’s?” are always answered with: “What do you think? Let’s see if we can find out together.”

    And always remember it’s okay to say I don’t know, rather than be forced into coming up with an answer.

  7. Jeff Maystruck Says:

    With our clients I find asking “why” several times to them and to ourselves before recommending anything is the only way to get down to the meaning of the tactic. People usually think it is common sense but rarely do we question even daily routines with “why”? Schools don’t teach kids to ask why so I think they found this neat little website (not sure if you’ve heard of it) GOOGLE.COM where almost every question can be answered. Schools need to aid this process not shun away from it.

    Great post, still waiting for one to disagree with you on! 😉
    Cheers!

  8. Deborah Says:

    Loved this post. Why? Cause an hour ago I just commented on my second favourite blog http://bit.ly/cWq6x9
    “Interestingly in institutions asking why may be the best way to get at intent: why do we do things that way? why do we think this? why do we believe that? Why do we say this? When you really push it – and, if you survive – you’ll discover some amazing truths about the organization. And some will be very uncomfortable truths indeed.”

    Why is on my mind! Thanks Julien

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