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 drowning man to safety, gives him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, 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.

Sometimes, especially as I try to hang on to my retirement money, I fear that money is my true God.

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.



  1. “They work every day at oppression and we must work every day at freedom. To do nothing is to willingly accept the chains.”


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