Boomer Voices: Why doesn’t anyone ask why?

There has never been a time in modern American history when it was more important for all of us to ask a simple question about things we’re told: Why? But to BoomerCafé’s co-founder and publisher David Henderson, the word is disappearing. And that’s dangerous.

We’ve all been around a long long time. So what have we learned over our many years to make the world a better place?

Watching the billionaire race to break the bonds of earth, with both Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson soaring to the edge of space, I could see a potential for space exploration, maybe colonization of the moon, a goal that politicians have yet to announce.

Yet here on earth, things aren’t going well. While I will try to control my usual criticism of television news, where I spent part of my own career, I still wonder about the media’s seeming lack of awareness that the word “why” is one of the most powerful words in the news business. Heck, “why” is one of the best words in the world. It’s the “why” that’s behind things. It’s the driving force. But it is seldom asked even though it is often the core of a story. Why?

And while we’re at it, I am distracted by the poor grammar of a CNN anchorman who proclaimed that Bezos had flown “further” than Branson. No, the word is “farther,” which refers to distance. But then, there are no news anchors anymore of the caliber of Walter Cronkite or Peter Jennings, not even close. Today, they are just well-quaffed readers. Why?

Ice at the Arctic Circle melts due to dramatically higher temperatures attributed to climate change.

Then there’s climate change that has created temperatures of 100-degrees in the Arctic Circle. Why? I seem to recall that they told us in the early 1970s that catalytic converters on cars would alleviate future problems with climate change. How’s that working?!

And, despite the technology that sends rockets into space, we don’t have a handle on floods that destroy picturesque towns in Europe or on wildfires that literally erase towns in Canada. Why aren’t we doing something about that?

In Oregon, an enormous forest fire called the “Bootleg” fire has become so massive that it’s spawning its own weather systems, with thunderstorms, pyrocumulus clouds, powerful winds, even tornados. The fierceness of the Bootleg fire can be seen in the video above taken by a satellite in space. Investigators have found that the Bootleg fire may have been started by sparks from high-tension electrical wires, just like other fires in recent years. So, why haven’t they done more to mitigate that problem?

America’s current president talks about spending trillions of dollars on infrastructure, just like the former guy. I think, Oh boy, maybe antiquated airports and bridges and other structures critical to our country will be rebuilt. Some are a hundred years old, others just 50 years old. But what about providing fresh water and the internet and other “infrastructure” to the underserved, like Native Americans, many of whom are confined to lives in poverty? Why the perpetual inaction?

I’m writing this while using only one eye. My right eye is pretty much sealed closed by a mysterious inflammation of muscles behind it. The eyelid droops over the eye. Why? One realistic possibility is, the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine that I got is suspected of causing a wide spectrum of strange maladies, including muscle inflammations, menstrual bleeding among women, and palsies of various kinds.

Ophthalmologists I have seen, whom I trust and respect, are unsure of precise treatment. Physicians I know wonder why the whole medical establishment is not asking why there’s no meaningful discussion of vaccine side effects. Keep in mind that all of the vaccines only received provisional approval from the FDA, and none claims to absolutely prevent someone from actually getting Covid.

The media, meanwhile, is not asking why about much of anything, just repeating catch-phrases in news releases and handouts… “The Bootleg fire is as large as… er… ah… New York… or was it Detroit… or Rhode Island…” and would you mind telling me how big are those places, so I have a clue what you’re talking about?

No, it’s not an NBC News field reporter live on camera but rather TV appliance salesman Crazy Eddie from back in the ’70s.

TV reporters continue to wave their hands wildly while on camera, like some TV appliance huckster… yet, none asks — WHY?!

Well… guess I did again. I criticized today’s news media. Hope I explained… why.

8 Comments

  1. One of the best articles I’ve read on this site yet, thank you. I believe no one asks “why?” because not many people know how or want to use critical thinking skills. It’s far easier to be like the well-coiffed (check your spelling) newscasters and simply repeat what someone else wrote. We’re becoming a society of meaningless meme-posting robots, speaking words and phrases that sound like they mean something but are revealed as platitudes upon any examination (thinking or asking “ why”).

  2. That’s a very powerful piece, thanks for sharing! And I do hope your eye problem finds a solution soon. You’re totally right, too many people have stopped asking the why of things anymore, instead, they live by their prejudices – what Galbraith, last century’s famous economist, called conventional wisdom, and that wisdom has become manipulated by conservative populists of which Trump is but one example…

    So yes, to get rid of all that manipulated conventional wisdom, we must go back to basics and ask why. If you ask why the climate is hot, actually, surprise, there’s a good answer to that question! You will get an answer and a very detailed, evidence-based answer, one that you cannot bury under the carpet.

    Yes, I know, people love to bury things under the carpet. More comfortable that way. Because if you accept that climate change is not a joke, then what needs to change is the WHOLE system on which our society (and civilization itself) is built. And that’s scary! So better remain comfy in our snug home until the whole world burns up…

  3. Provocative piece, David, which inspired me to recall a quote from Robert Kennedy: “Some men see things as they are, and say why. I dream of things that never were, and say why not.”

  4. Thank you for this important article! To ask ‚why?‘ is the beginning of gaining deeper understanding and finding solutions.

  5. “… there are no news anchors anymore of the caliber of Walter Cronkite or Peter Jennings, not even close.”

    Thank you, David, for writing this article on an important topic, why don’t we ask why, anymore?

    I am in agreement with many of the other respondents.

    Using your own COVID19 vaccine experiences to illustrate our decreasing lack of curiosity struck a nerve. I have always wondered why the AMA allows the 1% (for-profit health care corpirations) to treat doctors so poorly, literally rewriting their instructions to their patients.

    David, not sure if you’ve ever written a novel but with some slight variations you could fictionalized some of your experiences and perspectives and develop a dystopia novel with a utopian twist.

  6. Thank you, David, for writing something very important with intelligent insight. I miss Walter Cronkite too and ask myself every time I turn on the news… where are you Walter when we need you? Hoping your eye condition improves.

  7. Congratulations on a very well -written, provocative, and timely article. As Timothy Leary said, “Think for yourself; Question authority”. We should all challenge the irreversible certainty and filtered truths from biased mainstream media, governments, lobby groups, and multi-national corporations.

    When I was a kid in the 50s, we were chided for always asking “why?”. “Because I said so” or “that’s the way it is” was never a satisfactory answer. So, we continued, “but why??”.

    Not that long ago, who, what, where, when, why, and how were essential elements to any news story. Nowadays, we seldom hear the “why”, even in so-called investigative journalism.

    We should get back into the habit of always asking “why” and be relentless in seeking out the real reasons behind so many issues affecting us today. Knowing the real truth is the first step to reclaiming our democracy and humanity.

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