My sister (Thanks, V!) sent me this powerful video on YouTube, which connects some of the searches people made in 2020 with many of the important moments of that unprecedented year. While we were all stuck, separated in our homes, we could look for answers with our fingertips on keyboards rather than through physical exploration. People all around the world asked many of the same questions.
In wondering Why (as I wrote about my student's podcast Y? in post 115 linked here), people get to build bridges from what we observe and think we know to what's just beyond our scope. Anyone who's studied or taught at Hotchkiss, or even walked down the English Wing on a visit, knows that our Humanities program asks four essential questions. One of them, "How do you know what you know and what do you count as knowledge?", leads to a lot of why searches. Anyone who's spent time with a three-year-old kid knows that why's often lead to more why's and more until the adult answering gives up.
Some why questions have actual answers (whether we can all understand them or not). For example, a person with more scientific understanding could give a real answer to "Why is the sky blue?" than I could. I'm more interested in the unanswerable why questions.
Obviously, Google instructs us to "Search on" through their website, but as we start to move past the devastating effects of a world-wide pandemic, I hope we can start searching on our own, using our senses and minds and empathy. Scientists and medical professionals rose to the challenge of finding vaccines to help get us out of our houses and back into life. (Thank you, science!!) Now it's our turn to ask other kinds of why questions:
- Why do we value some lives more than others?
- Why do we let hate guide our beliefs and actions, even when we know that in holding onto hate we damage ourselves?
- Why do we believe what we see and hear online unquestioningly when we know that people control our information for their own gain?
- Why do we want to waste time when we know that we have a finite amount available?
What other why questions should we be asking? Why should we ask them? Please share your questions and thoughts in the comments.