It's such a crucial question, particularly for journalists.
One of the first lessons young reporters learn is the importance of the five W's and H. The five W's are, of course, who, what, when, where and, yes, why. The H stands for how. Answer those six questions in a news story, and you've got a good start, as every student who has ever taken Journalism 101 knows.
Which leads us to a front-page feature in today's Dallas Morning News on a family of 10 who crammed into a 30-foot camper during a yearlong road trip to advocate for foster care:
The Kendrick family traded their 3,000-square-foot Melissa home for a 30-foot camper for a year, and visited every state in the continental U.S., parts of Canada and Mexico. They outran hurricanes, survived frigid temperatures — and potty-trained the youngest of their nine children.
They also ran out of gas — about 1,000 feet away from a filling station on the last day of their trip.
“We had been good about keeping it filled during the trip, but on that last day, it came back to bite us,” Bruce Kendrick said.
So why did Bruce, 35, and his wife Denise, 36, drive 25,000 miles with eight of their nine children?
Eight years ago, the Kendricks founded Embrace, a nonprofit that provides aid and resources to at-risk, fostered and adopted children and their families, as well as faith-based children’s homes.
“We got so many requests for workshops that we said, ‘OK, let’s knock it all out in a year,’” Denise Kendrick said.
Way up high, the Morning News asks the why question.
But here's my sincere question: Does the Dallas newspaper ever really provide the answer? Do readers ever find out — at a most basic level — why providing loving homes for children is such a passion for Bruce and Denise Kendrick?
Yes, the reference to "faith-based children's homes" provides a clue.
And yes, the newspaper includes a few quotes that refer to God, including here:
“Government plays a role in this, and we appreciate what the government is doing, but if people in their own communities don’t take care of the most vulnerable, then the problem never gets solved,” Bruce Kendrick said. “We didn’t set out with this grand vision, we just kind of followed God’s plan. Now I’m speaking at the state and national level, discussing legislation and doing other things.”
But while the Morning News provides a detailed description of the family's travels ("They swam with manatees in Florida, hiked the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park, rode bikes along the Great Allegheny Passage south of Pittsburgh, went crabbing in Maine, lived off the grid in an old miner’s cabin in Lolo National Forest in Montana and skied in New Mexico."), the story never delves into the crucial motivating factor for the Kendricks.
That would be their faith.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
I can't imagine that in the interview, the Kendricks didn't cite that Scripture or other spiritual reasons for caring for children. After all, their website notes:
We believe we must multiply ministry in strategic partnerships with other churches in order to fully answer the biblical mandates to "take up the cause of the fatherless" (Isaiah 1:17).
Yet the Morning News totally ignores religion, even though there's no way for readers to truly grasp what makes the Kendricks tick without exploring that angle.
That leaves an otherwise compelling feature with a holy ghost the size of the Grand Canyon.
Here's what I want to know: Why?