I found out pretty early on that most people, especially adults, don’t like being asked that question – and especially in an educational or authoritative setting. One might think, rightly so, that a classroom is the perfect place to ask “Why?” But that was often not the case, as I came to find out.
I was a curious child, probably more so than some, and I’m certain there were times when I was that annoying kid who asked, “Why?” – was told an answer, to which he asked, “Why?” – was told another answer, to which – you get it. I don’t think I was that way that often, but then it’s hard sometimes to judge ourselves accurately, especially looking so far into the past. But I really wanted to know the ‘why’ to the big questions. Why are there some people who are homeless, when there are other people who have so many houses, they don’t ever even stay in some of them? Why are people, especially kids, so cruel to each other? Why do people claim to be Christians, but then act so opposite to the way Christ did? Why do we have to have money? Why can’t we use another system?
And while I thought that there just had to be other kids or people who asked these questions, I was quite surprised to find that most just don’t. Most people go one or 2 levels deep, and when they hit the “Because God made it that way,” or “Because I said so,” that was good enough for them, and they just let it go. Me, not so much. I recognized this for what it was – somebody being afraid or embarrassed to admit they didn’t know and dodging the question. Looking back, I don’t understand why more people didn’t just simply say, “I don’t know.” Oh, but wait – some did. We all remember the old, “I don’t know, ask your mom/dad/grandpa/teacher.” Lol. In fact, I’m sure many of us parents would say that now, if not for Google. It has become the oracle that now knows all the “whys”. How many times have I heard myself say to my kids, “I don’t know, go Google it.” But I digress.
Asking “why?” too much was actually a punishable offense I came to discover. I remember in 3rd grade, I had a fairly mean old woman (you’ll see why I refer to her that way) for a teacher. As usual, I often asked, “Why?” and sometimes, if she tried to just brush my questions aside, I would push a little more for an actual answer. I think she was too proud to just say “I don’t know.” In any case, after a few months, she grew tired of me, and decided to banish me: she sat me in a desk at the back of the room, separated from the rest of the class, and instead of interacting with her and everyone else, I was to complete the studies on my own. If I was “so smart,” I could just complete the class without assistance or help was her thinking I guess. I was 9 years old. Needless to say, my mom did NOT like that very well, and when teacher conferences came, she gave Mrs. Forkner a piece of her mind! And my mom was NOT someone you wanted to tell you off. She was a drill instructor in the Army National Guard – so, yeahhh.
I remember thinking so many times when I was young that I must have been born in the wrong time period. Either God had messed up, or played some sick joke on me, because certainly these weren’t “my people.” There just weren’t any “others.” Actually, that’s not entirely true. There were – but only in stories, myths, legends, and spiritual texts. I was especially drawn to the tales of King Arthur and his knights, and felt as though surely, THAT was the time period I was supposed to be born into – a time when chivalry meant something, and being kind, respectful and sensitive to the travails of others meant something. And that was another characteristic I had: I was an extremely sensitive kid, very empathic. I cried at the end of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Most people thought I was silly. I cried for a lot of the last, torturous part of “Jesus of Nazareth.” And I really sobbed at the end of “The Elephant Man.” That poor guy. So many people were just so horrible to him. How could they act that way? How could anyone be so mean?
And I got to find out firsthand. Maybe that’s why I was particularly sensitive to it. I was bullied a lot when I was a kid. I was almost always the shortest kid in the class. I had a big nose. I had straight hair, like Alfalfa in “The Little Rascals.” I had freckles. I was smart, a nerd. So I had all KINDS of stuff to get teased for, and I did – all the time. My family was always supportive, and assured me that I was smart, and kind, and funny, and that those kids should be pitied; that someday, I would be successful and everything would be ok. But it couldn’t stop me from hating myself, and from being mad at God for making me such an easy target by “blessing” me with so many things that kids loved to make fun of. I was certain it wouldn’t have been this way in the times of King Arthur, or in the times of Jesus. One of them would have appreciated me for who I was, and wouldn’t have cared about all that stuff. So where was the modern incarnation of the Knights of the Round Table? Where were the disciples of Jesus who carried forward his teachings into the current day and age? Where indeed.
In books. That’s where they were – that’s where they lived. They were only myths, much to my great sadness. And there just weren’t any “others.” I certainly had some wonderful friends and loving family members. But none really wanted to join the Quest to find the truths I was looking for. I would have to be ok going it on my own.