The Importance of Why

If people don't have a real understanding of the deeper reasons why they should do something, they will push back against anyone who says they should do it. For a couple of examples, take traditional marriage and paying taxes.  There are many people who believe that one or the other (or in some cases both) is a waste of time.

Some may believe that traditional marriage is based solely on patriarchalism and oppressive ideas about some people being worth more than others. The good things that they think marriage is supposed to bring are more easily and justly obtained through other arrangements and agreements. They are happy to see declining rates of participation in marriage among society as a whole.

Some believe that taxes are a way for established interests to steal money that rightfully belongs to individuals. They believe that money paid to the government is completely or largely wasted. They certainly see no moral obligation to paying taxes, or at least to paying all their taxes. They would be thrilled to see their taxes go down and down and down.

But in both cases, participation in these social institutions would be greatly helped by the participants or potential participants understanding the best arguments, the most powerful classic and contemporary reasons, why we should give them our participation, respect, and even defense. In their (or our) ignorance of these reasons, we may do damage to such institutions as these, and thereby to the vulnerable people that social institutions are (at their best) designed to protect.