Root Cause Revolutions

Last post talked about using a root cause analysis to find the true source of our problems.  Tired of electing dictators? who label criticism as “fake news?”   Frustrated because rich pampered playboys get to be Supreme Court judges? even when the women they’ve assaulted confront them?

You’re not alone.  But yelling in their face or complaining to your friends doesn’t solve the problem.  In fact it only makes it worse.  So what should you do?

Dig.  Dig deeper.  Why did this happen?  What created these monsters in the first place?  How are they fed?  Why are they fed?  Who benefits from having dictators as president and rapists as judges?

It’s not going to be an easy job.  I’ve done it, and it’s painful.  And you might not like the answers.  But getting to the answer is an answer in itself.  But like any hard task, you have to remind yourself why you must continue.

To start a revolution.  To change things for the better.  To make this a better world for your children, for their children, for any children.  Even for the rest of the planet.

By asking yourself why, by getting the answers to why, you will find out the exact point where the revolution must begin.  It doesn’t matter if you are thinking about women’s rights, immigration, gun control, or even protecting wetlands.  It all begins at some deep point, and that’s where the revolution must begin.

Last post explained why we call it “root cause” analysis.  Because agriculture is so important for us, when we remove a weed, we know we have to remove it from the root.  And not just part of the root, but the entire root.

The same thing applies to our social problems.  Find the root.  Define the root.  Outline the entire root.

Good job.  No matter what the problem, you can find the root and define it.

Now, there’s only one more step on the way to making this a better world.

Stay tuned.


Rooting Problems

Gardening has been a big part of civilization for over ten thousand years.  Since all of us rely on it to live, it’s hard to overstate how important agriculture is to humanity.

No surprise then that, when a weed or other undesirable growth appears in our garden, we make great efforts to eliminate the problem weed.  We also know that we have to pull it out by the roots, otherwise the problem weed comes back.

Hence the term, getting to the root of a problem.

Business deals with problems all the time.  These problems are very tangible within industry where machines are used and built.  Problems show up in a physical form, and can be annoying, or catastrophic.  Large firms have collapsed because of some problem that wasn’t caught until too late.

For that reason, most companies use a system that actively looks for problems before the customer sees them.  And when that problem shows up, the company starts asking questions.  Who, what, why, when, where, are all part of the mix.  But there is one question that rules them all.

What is the ultimate source of this problem?  What is the root cause?

Some companies ask “why?” as many times as it takes.  Some companies “drill down.”  In all cases, management understands that unless you find the deep reason mistakes are made, they will happen again.  This system works, and the most successful companies adhere to these principles tightly.

Why don’t we do the same thing as people regarding social and behavioral problems?

Pick a problem, any problem.  Abortion.  Gun violence.  Drug use.  Electing dictators.  Confusion over truth and lies.

Now, think about how we currently “handle” the problem in society.  Here in the USA, they are usually ignored, with the barest superficial form of action being taken in order to stave off public unrest.  Until the next time.

No one asks the hard questions, and certainly no one dares go beyond those to even harder questions.

Abortion:  Why does a young woman get pregnant in the first place?  Where is the father?  Where are the other family members?  Will society take care of this child once it’s been born?

Gun Violence:  Why must the entire US population be allowed to carry lethal firearms?  Are the current restrictions sufficient?  (Babies can’t buy guns, and you can’t take them into Congress for some reason.)

Drug Use:  Why are users and their pushers always caught, but never the boss, bosses boss, or higher?  Why are the corporations that ultimately make many of these drugs immune from retribution.  Why can’t low-lethality versions be designed and de-regulated for general use, obviating the need to import deadly versions?  Why are so many people using them anyway?

I don’t want to keep boring you, but you get the point.  Ask questions.  Dig.  Then dig deeper.  You may not like what you find.  But when you eventually pull that weed from your garden, you can rest.  You’ll know it shouldn’t be coming back.


Traveling with Chaucer

I’m reading a great book by a guy named Chaucer.  He wrote a lot of things first because there’s no writing before his.  This book is called Canterbury Tales, something he never finished.

I was most of the way through this hilarious story about the old carpenter who’d married a gorgeous young thing.  It was funny because she took a liking to this young college student.  He came up with a way to fool the old carpenter into thinking Noah’s flood was returning.  The ending is laugh-out-loud funny, and everything turned out quite happily for the mis-aligned bride.

Page, Butler, Confidant, Bureaucrat, Poet

You’ll have to read it for yourself to get the laughs.  That’s not the reason for today’s post.  There’s another, more subtle laugh involved.

It suddenly dawned on me that this framework of Chaucer’s, this people telling each other stories as they all travel to Canterbury, this is the very first instance of “books on tape.”

Ever been on a long trip and enjoy listening to someone read or tell a story?  It’s one of the most popular travel companions nowadays.  My daughter loves American Life and RadioLab and Moth.

That’s what Chaucer was talking about.  Everyone told a story, and the time passed quickly for everyone.  It’s yet another bit of evidence that what was true then is still true now.  The only thing that’s changed is that we’ve taken the person out of the loop.

So next time you listen to a story on the radio, think about Jeff and his traveling buddies.  They did it, too, some 400 years ago.  Once upon a time …


Drunk on Chaucer

I’m reading a great book by a guy named Chaucer.  He gets credit for writing a lot of stories first because he was the first.  His biggest work came out about the time he died around 1400, called Canterbury Tales.

I had to read it for some class back in the dim times.  Now I’m taking my own sweet time and enjoying the stories for what they are.  Some of them are way too naughty for teaching to high school students.  So why didn’t I get to read them back then?

No crying now, only laughing.  This is some funny stuff.  Here’s a wide smile that also pertains to behavior that I found buried way in the back.  It’s a note from Professor Coghill about drinking, on page 524.

In the middle ages the learned recognized four states or stages of drunkenness, which corresponded to the four “humours” or dispositions of man: lion-drunk, or choleric; ape-drunk, or sanguine; mutton-drunk or phlegmatic; swine-drunk, or melancholy.

I think it’s great that way back then, when most of us think our society is way more sophisticated than the middle ages, they had FOUR different states of drunk.  From lion, ape, to lamb and swine.  What does it all mean?

Page, Butler, Confidant, Bureaucrat, Poet

It doesn’t matter any more.  It’s way more fun than simply saying someone is buzzed, high, blitzed or whatever the terms are nowadays.  Personally, I think we should start a movement to bring back some great terms for scrambling our brains.

Are you with me?  Shall we drink on it?


Bibi Djan: Conclusion

Average age back in the day before child labor laws, about twelve.

Bibi Djan, The Rug Weaver

Introduction   Grandma Helen (Heghineh) Davidian spent early mornings at her writing desk.  She didn’t sleep as much as the rest of her family, and the extra time was invested in telling stories about the lives of young Persian women in the early 1900s.


Part 16   He felt the light touch of a hand on his shoulder and he opened his eyes. The room was dark. He heard a whisper in his ear.

“Get up, Habib.  God has given you a fine little boy.  And He has saved Bibi Djan’s life, too. Come and see them.”

Habib rubbed his eyes and sprang to his feet, and saw the Armenian nurse standing at his side in the dark waiting room, holding in her hand a small kerosene lamp, her face beaming in its flickering light.



Postscript:  It’s very likely that the Armenian nurse mentioned here was Helen Davidian’s sister.  It’s also likely that this story was based on events many women experienced, and may still experience even today.  Finally, consider the fine oriental rug you may enjoy, especially those made some time ago.  Consider the small hands that tied those knots, and what may have happened to them over the years.  Thank you for reading.

The entire story will be posted on 25 December of this year.