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Why? Good question.

January 14, 2011 - Per Peterson
As a parent I want to think I can answer any of my daughter’s questions — the simple ones and the more complex ones. Sometimes she brings questions home from school that I can’t answer, either because I’m not a history buff or because I’m not all that great with geography, either. On Friday she came up with another perplexing question. We had been talking about the Tucson shootings and how a girl about her age was shot and killed. She said that was really sad and felt bad because she only got to live for nine years. I agreed and told her the man actually killed six people and injured many others. Then came the question: Why? That was it. One three-letter word: Why. All I could muster was, “I?don’t know honey. No one knows.” I doubt my answer satisfied her. You don’t have to be an innocent 8-year-old to ask that question. We’re all still asking it a week removed from the shooting rampage. The only difference is adults know there is no answer because we’re too cynical to come up with just one. We debate about answers, but struggle to decide on the best one. In the eyes of our innocent children, whose cynical years are still many years away, someone should be able to answer that million-dollar question. But I couldn’t. It would’ve been easy to say, “well, he’s a wacko,”?or “he’s full of hate,” but that doesn’t really suffice. “Why?” is the toughest question to answer. “Who?” is usually easy. “When?” and “where?” are, too. But it’s that other “W” that often gets us stuck — it forces us to think deeper, which is a good thing to do. It forces us to accept the reality that there are people out there who do crazy, mean and unforgiveable things. When we read about Christina Green’s funeral, we ask “why?” When we look at the New York skyline without the World Trade Center towers standing tall we still ask “why?” When we watch a History Channel special on Martin Luther King’s assassination we ask “why?” Some people think they know the answers to some of this nation’s most tragic events, but theories are no substitution for answers. Maybe that’s why answering the question of “why” is so difficult. The sad part is, I?fear it’s become such a rhetorical question that we’ll eventually not even attempt to answer it. And that would be the ultimate tragedy.


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