Somewhere between ages 2 and 4, a vast majority of children go through a stage of asking “Why?” about EVERYTHING. It’s an interesting experience when you’re around children at that state, because when they ask “Why?” you often can’t help but wonder yourself. Of course it very quickly becomes annoying, as the whys come up far too frequently!
After a few months, children stop asking why. Until they become teenagers. And then the whys come back in full force, and for a parent or guardian or relative, the whys can be difficult to answer. (Often the answer is “because I said so” but you know that’s probably not the best answer – you just don’t have a better one.)
At a certain point in our teenage years, we stop asking why. And then, unless we have a brief moment in college where we ask whys, or we have children from 2 to 4 who are asking why, we really cease to do so. For the rest of our lives. We accept what society tells us is normal. We stop questioning.
Why do we stop asking why? Because it’s easier to accept the status quo? Because we want to be accepted, and to be accepted we must be considered “normal”?
But where has normal got us?
We’re in danger of irreversibly destroying our planet due to climate change. We’re not coming up with many solutions for a predicament in the not too distant future when we run out of cheap oil and natural gas. We’ve killed off innumerable species. We’ve obliterated forests, we’ve poisoned our food supplies, we’ve even managed to destroy a whole lot of our own cultures and peoples.
So maybe we should redefine normal. Don’t you think? Maybe we should start asking why, and come up with some better answers!
Why do we live in big houses when we could live in smaller spaces and be comfortable? Why do we have gigantic cars when we could have smaller cars and do just fine? Why do we have things just because they are available to us? Why do we buy more things than we need? Why do we purchase packaged, processed food when we know it’s bad for us and for the environment? Why do we “need” certain things in order to help us relax? Why do we wash our hair with lab-generated chemicals every day, just because that’s the way we’ve been taught to do it?
Let yourself be free of what other people say is normal. Define normal for yourself. Is it normal to destroy the environment because you’re too tired to do it any other way tonight? Maybe it shouldn’t be normal. Maybe normal should be that we do everything we can to stop irreparably destroying our planet! (Even if you’re tired tonight.)
Maybe normal should be turning off our televisions, and instead spending time meeting others in our communities and learning ways to generate a new, society-wide ‘normal’? Maybe normal should be giving instead of taking, loving instead of hating, happiness instead of sadness and loneliness, and working together instead of in isolation.
Redefining normal doesn’t happen overnight. Redefining normal happens over days, months, years. But it only happens if you work at it. It only happens if you start asking “Why?” again. And then start coming up with better answers.
I’ll do it. I’ll do it because we must if we are to save our planet and its life. I’ll do it because I believe it’s important to do so for the next generations. I’ll do it for many, many reasons. Will you?