The Power of Asking "Why?"

Doug Tjaden Community, Economics, Emotional Equity, Physical Equity, Spiritual Equity

Nearly every parent has experienced it. At some point, toddlers begin to realize that there is more to the world around them than they originally perceived. Their need to understand becomes insatiable.

“Mommy/Daddy, why (they state their curiosity)?”

“Because (superficial explanation #1).”

“Why?” (They sense there is more to it than that.)

“Well…” (second attempt at a more thorough explanation.)

“Why?”

And the loop continues until the parent either runs out of patience or knowledge of the subject matter at hand. What those children have tapped into, however, is a fundamental principle. Living a superficial life is not very satisfying. The more you dig, the more the world makes sense. Each utterance of the question “why?” is an ax thrust into the ground, with understanding and truth being the ultimate prize.

We see this principle in Equity Building. Good counselors ask questions, listen, then ask more questions. They may not use the word every time, but they are constantly digging for the root of “Why?” Why do you feel that way? Why did you react that way? They keep asking “why” until both the root problem and its cause are exposed. That is when long-term emotional healing can occur.

Good doctors follow a similar path. A friend of mine has dealt with chronic health issues his entire life. Just recently, he has received a major breakthrough because he was connected with a doctor who refused to follow the standard playbook and instead asked the question “why?” until it led to a previously undiscovered link between his symptoms and the root cause of his health struggles.

In both cases (all three if you count the example of the child), each time the question “why?” is asked, it forces introspection. It causes the one of whom the question is asked to consider their presuppositions and results-based reality before formulating their answer. Answering a series of “why?” questions takes time, often a lot of it, before the final answer presents itself.

Sadly, today’s fast paced high-tech, hyper-connected, yet the relationally superficial world has trained humans to become very impatient. We want pages of suggested answers presented to us in .17 seconds as we type our questions into a search engine.  We read through the top two or three, and boom! Problem solved. Task complete. Time to move on.

That may be sufficient when working on a do-it-yourself home fix-it project. However, it is woefully insufficient to produce remedies to the broken economic, political, and social systems that are now exposed as being built on a foundation of faulty principles. Today, countless citizens in every nation are consumed with fear and uncertainty. Meanwhile, it seems as though world leaders are busy tapping their questions into Google and enacting public policy based on their search results.

Needless to say, it will not work.

Seeking Answers

During the 20th Century, the developing world seemed on the verge of a new era of abundance. Countless hundreds of millions of people gained access to material goods and services that enable them to live a lifestyle that rivals that of kings a thousand years ago. Countless millions of Christians believe that this is an indication of God’s blessing. They think it is the manifestation of Jesus’ declaration that "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

Yet in each nation where this "new era of abundance" has been established, there remains an incredible number of poor, widows, and orphans – all living day-to-day in tremendous distress. This world of abundance seems filled with unsolvable problems. Geopolitical tensions are rapidly rising. Governments worldwide are creating trillions of dollars worth of new money, yet the fear of scarcity is everywhere.

Why?

The answer is revealed when we look at the context of the full statement that Jesus made.

"The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy… I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10

The thief.

Most Christians today know who the thief is. However, they have no idea all that he has stolen from humanity.

Why?

For three thousand years, the thief has constructed and fine-tuned systems that destroy the abundance that Jesus intended for us to enjoy. But he didn’t stop there. His systems create a false sense of abundance, and he has convinced us it is better than what Jesus came to give. Until we are ready to face that fact, we will continue to see the earth and its inhabitants needlessly killed and destroyed.

The Baseline

At Pentecost, the impartation of the Holy Spirit reversed the economic sanctions placed on the Gentile nations at the tower of Babel, where God confused their language. God's goal then was to make it impossible for them to do what He Himself said they were on the verge of doing – whatever they wished (Genesis 11:6).

Why did God reverse these sanctions?

By bringing the Gentile nations back into right standing and giving them a new interpreter (the Holy Spirit), He restored to mankind a very practical and necessary component for mankind to fulfill the mandate given in Genesis 1:28 and repeated in Matthew 6:10 and 28:19-20. That is, to build the Kingdom of God on earth.

The scale of resource gathering and cooperation necessary to accomplish this mandate is stunning. At Pentecost, for the first time in 2200 years, all of humanity had the ability to access the blueprints for God's Kingdom and cooperate with one another on a scale necessary to build it. That's a pretty big deal.

It makes sense then that God would give us a baseline measurement of progress in building this new Kingdom, and a clue as to how to achieve this baseline. He did.

"For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need." Acts 4:34-35

Having the basic needs of emotional, physical, and Spiritual well-being met in the citizens of this new Kingdom was the first and bare minimum baseline goal to be achieved before any other economic "growth" should be considered.

So why do we still have countless needy among the "wealthiest" nations on earth?

The answer is sad and telling. The 20th Century gave rise to a marketing machine that created human beings so focused on themselves, that their consumption-driven frenzy has laid waste to vast quantities of human and natural resources. The idea of loving your neighbor to the point of ensuring their basic needs are met got lost in the noise of this demonic machine.

For those who have not yet watched the award-winning 2002 BBC documentary "The Century of the Self - Happiness Machines," I would encourage you to invest the time. It chronicles in part how the West, in particular, has become a culture filled with rich young rulers who today would find it very difficult to sell their very large lands or houses and lay the proceeds at the feet of the apostles.

As Pentecost 2021 approaches, there is no better time to step back from the noise created by the machine we are still trapped in today and re-consider the baseline given to us at the first Pentecost. Maybe the question we should ask is…

Why not trust the baseline created by those who first encountered the Holy Spirit and work toward designing and implementing an economic model where "there was not a needy person among them?"

Why not?


[1] James 1:27

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