Nicholas - Creve Coeur, Missouri
Entered on December 19, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Words. They are marvelous, numerous, raw meaning without physical representation. But have you ever wondered what the most important word is? If you speak English you have about 988,968 to choose from. It’s incredibly daunting. This question has followed me most of my life, and although words such as justice, life, peace, gratefulness, and freedom seem important, none ever seemed omnipotent, at least not until six months ago. It was Wednesday, I was staring at a tree, half listening to an argument a friend of mine was having over how to properly light charcoal, when it came to me, an epiphany, like an explosion inside my head. The most important, and meaningful, word ever uttered. It gives us a reason to live, separating the wise from the ignorant, and serving as the foundation for all religions. W-h-y?

Shall I explain “why”?

Have you heard the term, “there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers”? Many don’t believe this, but I now recognize it as a universal truth. Regardless of how much or little one knows, if the desire for knowledge and understanding is limitless, so too is the potential. If you compare humans to other creatures, we fight, we mate and we eat. So what truly separates man from beast? The answer is simple. No dog, cat, or chimpanzee ever gazed at the heavens and asked, “Why am I here? What is my purpose in life?” The quest for deeper meaning behind the already established is the defining factor which makes us human. Therefore the first human was the one who first asked “Why”?

As a Boy Scout, my experiences have taught me much. For example, to earn my cooking merit badge I had to interview a professional chef. The interview was long, but the one thing I’ll never forget was his reply when I asked him about the greatest aspect of being a chef. “It’s learning something new every single day. The day you end your quest for knowledge is not only the day you stop being a chef, it’s the day you stop living.” This has stayed with me. If we quit searching for answers and simply take things for granted, what point is there to life? Isn’t seeking the answers to “why” the entire foundation behind philosophy and science?

The friend I mentioned earlier, Jordan, is also a Scout whose most notable feature is his inquisitive nature, which brought him negative attention and annoyed many. However, hearing him argue about the charcoal led to my epiphany. Jordan now occupies the highest position in the troop, and is one of the most reliable, knowledgeable, and hard working people I know. He still asks questions, but is now respected for it.

I have always been fascinated with the unknown, perhaps that’s why I consider “why” such an important word. I am also religious, and believe in god. This might seem counterintuitive, but it need not be. There is no statement you can make, or comment you can utter, for which “why?” is not an appropriate response. For every advance in research and truth uncovered, there will always be a new “why?” Science can never answer all the whys out there, especially the deep philosophical ones that plague us. This is why religion has survived millennia; and why we will always need a god. Our constant need for answers and reasons will never be satisfied. Thus we continue to progress and grow. Clearly “why” isn’t just a word, it’s a way of life.

That’s “why”.