Thursday, May 19, 2011

Root Cause

When I was in high school biology class with the one and only Ms. Dettmer I can clearly remember her holding up a jar filled with water that had a plant with an extensive root system filling the glass and in her thick German accent saying "Dis plant vould not live vitout da root system! Do you zee dat everything in nature has itz roots! Every ecosystem dat has adapted to zee environment has roots you can zee and zome you cannot see! Every food chain from da smallest plankton to da biggest vale is all about a root system!" Now Ms. D had a bit of trouble with the English language and my German at the time was limited to two hours a week, mostly because Heidi took German too but I got her drift. Everything in life has a root cause...everything... and as I have gotten older and more observant I see that the root cause of every challenge is where true and lasting change can take place....but first one has to have the courage to dig thru alot of dirt to get down to the nitty gritty of what is...and why it is...what it is.

For humans, our belief systems are like the branches of a tree, shooting out in every direction according to what we believe to be true. The world is filled with forests that have all manner of tree in them, each vying for their place, the nourishment and to keep their roots intact.  For example-take a look...a hard a real hard look at the roots of your political views. If you are dirt honest with yourself the chances are that how you see politics is something that you observed, learned or heard growing up. As a kid growing up in the 60's and 70's in Chicago my dad was a dyed in the wool Daley Democrat..Hizzoner the Mayor Richard J Daley had been in power for many years and the talk around our table is something that fed my roots-that Chicago was the greatest city in the world...that its the city that works...that if you needed a new garbage can the alderman was a call away...and to be a Daley Democrat..well...that's just the way it was. So my roots grew and grew and got connected over and over again...a belief was born. When Daley died and others took his place over the years, I could not BELIEVE it...did not match up with what my roots told me was the way of things. The city would fall apart...the alderman would not take a call...what then? Of course the city did not fold, the garbage got collected and eventually a new belief formed...not everything I believed was true...unless I made it so. It took years to begin to form new roots, new beliefs politically and go against the grain as it were when I felt it time to do so. Roots are neither good nor bad...they are just roots.

Each of us is governed by the roots that we have sunk deep into the fertile soil of our minds and by doing so we have acted on those roots as if they are the absolute truth-even though they are only true because we continually think they are. Someone has roots that said they should always clean their plate because there are starving kids in China grows up to be overweight and may not even really understand why. A marriage falls apart after one partner's beliefs are rooted in feeling not good enough because of birth order and spends a lifetime making that belief true, even though they once again end up miserable and no matter what the other partner says or does cannot change the behavior so deeply rooted in perception kept alive by belief. Every racist has its roots...every Christian...every..body has their roots..Sometimes these are toxic roots that have to be dug out over a long period of time, for if left deep in the soil of the soul, they continue to send negative, non-life affirming branches into every area of life. As the season to tend the yard is upon us you can mow down all the dandelions and it appears they are gone-but give it a few days and bang...there they are again. Pulling them out by the roots is the only way to truly change a it your yard...or your life. Every problem our country has...and every problem in our lives..have their roots...that if go unexamined or unchallenged or unchanged...creates havoc in our lives. You cannot fix a problem at the effects of have to be at the root cause for transformation to take place.

But alas most do not want to pull out the roots...because it hurts so frigging much. For the most part humans would rather endure the short fixes that appear to solve the that change nothing in the long run and it only increases the pain that comes from being afraid to do the ultimate root canal...on the soul and the unwillingness to dig in the dirt creates pain that radiates out to every branch and every leaf. Its good to remember that the roots that need to be pulled out...aren't yours anyway..they were fed and watered by someone else in the formative stages of life. So you don't have to blame yourself...or even those that encouraged or discouraged the growth pattern that no longer serves. Your only mission...should you choose to accept it is that the spade is in your hands..and no other. No one else can dig out your roots for you. Not even Ms. Dettmer.


  1. Yes..and remembering that the spade in which we finally have the courage to be rid of the root can also be used to fill that empty hole to plant new, vibrant seed and take pleasure in the new life as it grows....