Gettin’ Dirty: The Roots

What makes determining root cause of an issue difficult in your mind?


This is an interesting question, because in my mind, I’m thinking of two separate questions: (1) What inherently makes determining root cause of an issue difficult, and (2) What keeps us from solving/trouble-shooting the root causes themselves instead of the secondary symptomatic issues.


For the purpose of this discussion, I will address only the former.

Starting with imagery: You want to know the odd thing about a root? A root keeps growing. While the plant gets taller and taller, the root gets deeper and deeper. Also, if you’ve ever looked at a root, you know where the general area of a root is; it’s usually fairly distinct from the plant parts. But a root can be huge! With roots coming out of its roots! It’s almost as if, in addition to finding the root of the plant, you need to find the root of the roots! They split off, converge, and twist around each other, creating a horrible mess. Have you ever tried to pull out a well set root? Regardless the size of the plant may appear, sometimes that little bugger won’t budge! Half the time, if it does, you end up tearing up half the ground with it!


Did I lose anyone in there? World problems are much more confusing.


So…  although the world problems aren’t quite as simply attributed to the anatomy of plants, there are some interesting connections here. Roots are often firmly set, and the problem often isn’t a mere singular root. Trust me, if one root was all I had to worry about, gardening would be a piece of cake. Instead, the problem is most often the strength of the collective roots. I believe much is true for many of the great social problems of the day. A root cause is not always the first cause, and in my opinion, that’s not what we’re looking for anyway (i.e. not so important the ‘what started it all,’ but ‘what is perpetuating it still’ = the root cause). Rather, we are looking for, on the most simplistic of levelsas we can muster, what factor(s) determine said social problem. (More often than not, I believe it will be a combination of factors, not any one singular source. Thus, the dilemma continues: what in the world are the root causes??). And you can be sure, tearing up a social problem will not be a pretty process (analogy again: mess!)


There are other reasons as to why determining a root cause can be such a frustrating endeavor (such as arriving to different conclusions every time you start down a different thought-process path of cause and effect, or also when problems tend to be cyclical, with no apparent start, or for imagery, like a Mobius strip). However, I have full confidence that these will be addressed in other blogs, and am excited to read those.