Answer the question

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“Because I said so.” 

What a statement. 

When I’m not tired or hungry, I am a person of reason. My mind can be changed if the right evidence is presented. “Because I said so” makes my blood boil because it goes against everything I value. “Because I said so” offers no logic and is based entirely on the implied superiority of the person stating it. “Because I said so” is a statement of tyranny. 

More often than not, people who use this statement find it easier to subject those around them to their opinions rather than make an argument for their case. Sometimes, life is easier this way. Sometimes, there isn’t time to write out a CLEAR paragraph for your audience and hope that you were persuasive enough to get your way. And sometimes, there isn’t another option. If a house is burning down and a firefighter orders a person to evacuate their building immediately, the firefighter does not need to present the rationale for their claim. Their reasoning is implied through the flames.

But most of life is not lived with stakes that high. Most of the time, there are opportunities to reason and explain. So why don’t people? If it only took thirty seconds for you to help someone understand why you chose to say the things you did or act the way you acted, why wouldn’t you explain? What would you have to lose?

Maybe you’d realize that you were wrong. Maybe having to support your argument would lead you to discover that your argument wasn’t very sound to begin with. People don’t like admitting their faults, so I’m willing to bet that this is why people avoid answering the question that often follows “Because I said so”— “Why?”

I believe that “why” is one of the most powerful words in the English language. “Why” is the start of every important conversion. When there are problems in the world or changes to a lifestyle or even a new experience that brings joy, it is important to ask, “Why?” It is important to understand why things are the way they are. Why is this an issue? Why do I enjoy this activity? Why did they do what they did? 

Shutting down “Why?” with “Because I said so” is dangerous. When people aren’t encouraged to question what they observe, they become complicit. And complicity in a rapidly changing world can be taken advantage of. 

To stay alive as a critically thinking society, we need to emphasize the importance of questioning. Curiosity should be praised, not feared. People need to challenge authority because humans are beings with free will. If something doesn’t seem right to you, challenge it. If you don’t understand something yet, ask questions until you do. A rule without reason has no credibility. Stop saying “Because I said so” and answer the question instead. Give your words meaning and with that meaning, deserved power. If we keep expecting the world to follow blindly, we will eventually walk off a cliff.

Sarah Hamilton is a junior at Washington High School and has lived in the Bay Area for the majority of her life. This is her first year working on The Hatchet and she hopes to write about her opinions and cover global topics. She is a captain of the girls tennis team and works at the bookshop in town. Sarah is an avid reader of novels by Haruki Murakami and loves going to concerts and exploring San Francisco and Berkeley. She hopes to attend college on the East Coast and major in English with a minor in economics or publishing.

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