Monday, February 7, 2011

Why or Why not???

The way we look at the world has a large impact on how we live in the world.  This came up on a van ride home from Fernie BC.  Do you ask yourself- Why do I need a new car, tv, computer, house, holiday, flight, etc...  or is the question -Why not?  It's a subtle difference but I think it determines a lot about how we act and interact in this world...

So do you ask yourself why or why not?  You do 'only live once' in the words of so many of my close friends and family.  So Why not?  But, Why not comes with its share of trouble too, 1 billion cars, global warming, climate change, a growing gap btn rich and poor in many places... or am I making up a pretty broad correlation...

I also just heard an interesting quote, "it's not the world that needs changing, it's the way we look at the world"

love to hear your perspective.


  1. The questions of "why" and "why not" are somewhat belittled by a more important distinction between "wants" and "needs".

    Some describe 'needs' as shelter, food, water. But that perspective would be shortsighted and painfully irrelevant in our modern society. So how about a focus on redefining "needs" in the context of an individual in the modern, developed world. Let's compare and contrast with the "needs" of an individual in the modern, undeveloped world...

  2. Burden of proof? (Wiki it for a rigorous definition) Basically, when someone claims something the burden of proof is generally on them. (It depends, but for this example it might suffice.) So, since justifying "Why" is a lot harder to do than justifying "Why not", people tend to switch questions to validate the things that they want to do. It can be a form of hidden rationalization. Re-form the question so that the onus is not on you to answer. Instead you can act freely based on the shelter provided by the "Why not" perspective.

    Also, the "Why not" can take some real knowledge. I think I can safely claim that most people have only the most rudimentary understanding of the broad ramifications of their consumption choices. This lack of knowledge leads the "Why not" question to lack an answer in their thoughts. Unless they show remarkable conscientiousness and go look things up, they will likely remain ignorant of these facts until someone more learned sees that they are exposed to the ideas.

    For me personally, I can talk myself out of almost any consumption merely be posing the "Why not" question to myself. I can call to mind an avalanche of reasons to not do things like drive, take a plane flight, etc. I need to ask both questions so that I can find a middle ground with regards to how consumption interacts with my life and my dreams. Neither of these questions is enough to form a full picture of things. Perhaps we need to come up with a question, or set of questions, that captures the meaning of this decision making process.