Why? or How? That is the question

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Paris, 3 January 2012

To ask “why?” is to be a revolutionary.

To ask “how?” is to be a reactionary.

“Why?” is a word no authority ever wants to hear. It is a threat to their dominion.

“How?”, by contrast, is what every authority wants to hear. It is short for: “How, my Master, can I do your bidding? How, my Lord, can I obey your orders?”

“How?” is a question beloved of the slave, the conformist, the sheep in sheep’s clothing.

“Why?” is the question they asked in 1775, 1789, 1830, 1848, 1871, 1905, 1917 and 1949.

Unfortunately, “why?” is not much used today. One might ask: “why not?”

Hamlet, act 3, scene 1, line 56:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, 

And by opposing end them?

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