Root cause analysis


Thoreau, perhaps alluding to 1 Timothy 6:10

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

wrote in the first chapter of Walden

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve.

According to self-help author Tony Robbins

There’s a story I love to tell of a fellow standing on the banks of a river. Suddenly, he sees someone caught in the raging current, bounced about on the jagged rocks, and hears him calling for help. He leaps in, pulls the drowing man to safety, gives him mouth-to-mouth resucitation, attends to the man’s wounds, and calls for medical help. As he’s still catching his breath, he hears two more screams emanating from the river. Again, he jumps in and makes another daring rescue, this time of two women. Before he even has a chance to think, he hears four more people calling for help.

Pretty soon the man is exhausted, having rescued victim after victim, and yet the screams continue. If only he had taken the time to travel a short distance upriver, he could have discovered who was throwing all those people in the water in the first place!

According to Martin Luther King, Jr.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

Why are we usually engaged in “Trivial Pursuit” instead of asking and answering fundamental questions, instead of “striking at the root”? Why do we avert our eyes?

Recall what Dr. Zaius in Planet of the Apes advises Col. Taylor before he rides off down the beach with his rifle and his lover. Taylor says, “There’s got to be an answer.” and Zaius replies

Don’t look for it, Taylor. You may not like what you find.

Aside: According to this

According to Walter Harding’s The Days of Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson once noted that most of the branches of learning were taught at Harvard, to which Thoreau replied: “Yes, indeed, all the branches and none of the roots”.


One response »

  1. According to Cognitive Dissonance

    Are these men and women sell-outs, traitors to their beliefs, or are they just realists who are surviving like everyone else? Though I suppose we should redefine ‘surviving’. Is the act of gaming the system and our fellow man for our own benefit ‘surviving’, or is it total capitulation to avarice and pleasure via Borg like assimilation? I’ve been lectured by several of my old classmates over the years regarding our youth of naïve and innocent idealistic fantasies. A common theme thrust into my face is how hard they have worked to build this or that enterprise or profession. It’s pretty obvious they’ve been practicing their righteous indignation in front of the mirror for many years.

    The point never was and still isn’t how hard they worked, but what they worked for and who gets screwed by all that hard work in their self described dog eat dog global game. Many of my old classmates regale me with stories of all the good their work has done…..conveniently pushing aside many of society’s ills as bigger social or governmental problems not of their making. I’m often told they don’t make the rules, they just play the game. Nearly every single one feels they are (relatively) pure of heart and mind and they can prove it with their cancelled checks to charity. When I ask if their business and political activities are creating the very social problems they are donating money to fix, they quickly change the subject or find someone else to talk to.


    Our ego has been so thoroughly flattered since birth by delusions of freedom, truth, justice and the American way, along with visions of our magnificent benevolence to the world, that we would never tolerate, never mind entertain, the idea that we are herded like sheep and cattle to our thinking, feeding and reproduction pens. At this point in the collective farce the only difference between the USSR of the 1970’s and 80’s and America of 2011 is that the Russian people knew they were being lied to, used and abused.

    And while they openly drowned this ugly realization in alcohol, they also developed alternative markets and barter system that proved useful when the system later collapsed. We however remain spellbound by the magician while also self medicating; only we tell ourselves we do so for different reasons such as depression or anxiety. What no one wishes to discuss is that our depression is the warning sign that something is terribly wrong. Sadly, given half a chance, denial marches on using whatever means available.

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