How many times, during your childhood, did you hear this proclamation? How many times, as a child/teen, did you vow to never, ever repeat that phrase to your children? And, how many times, in moments of frustration and exhaustion, have you looked directly in your child's eyes and said those same four, seemingly innocuous, little words? We have all done it – a million times (or, so it seems) – no matter how angry it made us when our parents tossed them out, and despite the number of times we pledged not to say it to our kids.
“Because - I said so,” is designed to be a conversation stopper – a dead end. The understood message behind it is, “I am the authority. I am not interested in the facts you may want to present, and I am certainly not interested (do not have time, and I am too tired, etc.) in debating this issue.”
This past week, while writing a quarterly progress report for a DRC kid, his parents mentioned that he had listened to The World Undone, a book about WWI, which prompted him to begin researching Hitler and Nazi German, and how he influenced people to follow his ideological beliefs. That is when I realized that this phrase is not only used by parents around the world - but it is also a staple tool for anyone currently in (or seeking) a position of absolute power. Then I understood that it is possibly the reason behind one of the questions I have always had about the citizens of Germany during that time: Why did so many of them support a dangerous madman?
And, fast on the heels of that thought, came the realization that we are witnessing the very same phenomenon right now. “Because - I said so,” is the answer to any question that may generate more questions - it serves to stop the line of interrogation in its tracks. And, it neatly shifts the focus from the actual question to the authority figure and their agenda. The facts and truth are incidental. The motivation is clear – power, command, influence, and absolute obedience regardless of the cost to humanity.
Simply put, we have been well trained (as a citizenry) to sit back in complacency, and allow the consistent response to be: “because - I said so.” With that being acknowledged, I don’t believe we are destined to become an apathetic, hopeless society that history will look upon with confusion and disgust. There are people who refuse to be shut down. They continue to ask: “why.” And, yes, absolutely, we can all insist upon an answer.
Sending out best wishes for: A Happy Father's Day to all the Dads as well as to all those who have taken on the important father role in a child's life. And, a magical summer solstice.