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 look...no 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 landscape...be 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 it...you 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 problem..moving...drinking..eating..shopping..gadgets... 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.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Believe it or Not

When I say that I am "blogging my way to sanity" you can rest assured that its a true statement. We live in a world that by all accounts-  appears to be slipping from sanity-to insanity. Webster's defines insanity as a "mental disorder" but thats as far as it will go. I suppose we would need a collective "sane zone" that would be determined as a place that is mentally stable or at least a code of conduct or movement that is accepted by the masses-a group of people number to be determined- that agree upon a basic course of human action that allows for each to express themselves-without doing harm to another. Harm of course would also have to be in the eyes and ears of the one being harmed-because each of us have our own built in lines of sanity that we adhere to. What determines the lines? Belief.

Osama Bin Laden is dead. He was shot in the head twice and once in the chest by an elite Navy Seals team while he was living in Pakistan. Apparently his public persona needed him to be on the run and living among caves and bombed out camps to keep his terrorist followers motivated that he was just like them-even though nothing could be further from the truth. He was the son of Mohammed Bin Laden a wealthy businessman and his mother was Mohammed's tenth (10th) wife-the lovely Hammida al-Attas. Mohammed was off to his 11th wife so Osama's parents divorced and he was then raised with three half-brothers and one half-sister when his mother remarried. Little Osama was lost in the shuffle.

Osama was raised as a devout Muslim. From 1968 to 1976, he attended the "√©lite" secular Al-Thager School where  Osama studied economics and bussiness adminstration at King Abdulaziz University. Some reports suggest Osama earned a degree in civil engineering in 1979, or a degree in public administration in 1981. Other sources describe him as "hard working,"but having left university during his third year without completing a college degree. At university, Osama's main interest was religion, where he was involved in both "interpreting the Quran and jihad" and charitable work. He also wrote poetry. No really..he wrote poetry but then again so does Charles Manson.

Somewhere in all of this-a belief was born that the only way to set the world right and restore the Muslim world was to eliminate threats to it-anything that did not fit his version of what had been written centuries before had to go-and like most who confuse force with power, he was able to enlist young Muslim men that live on less than a dollar a day that salvation and favor would be found by becoming an "Army for Allah" and set about using humans as mortars for his crusade. On 9/11 his fate was sealed as the mastermind of the attacks on US soil which placed him on a list of men that throughout history changed the course of life as we know it. Hitler, Stalin, Hirohito, Leopold..take your pick. All those names and more have two things in common- 1) Somewhere along the line their wiring got crossed and they began to see the world from an insane perspective and 2) They all brought about their own demise by their beliefs and for the most part never thought it would happen. They all felt they were above their actions until sanity and perservence took them out, some by their own hand others by a Navy Seal.

The world is a better place without Bin Laden, but by no means is it safer. We can do the celebration "we got em" dance but truth is right now-somewhere out there is another Bin Laden or Timothy McVeigh who isnt getting enough attention or parents are divorcing or is getting slapped around or molested or whatever. It might be seeing the photo of Bin Laden who they believe died in a sacred jihad and is now banging away at 70 virgins is just the thing needed to have one of them say..." I want to be like him..."

I had never heard of the 70 virgin thing until after 9/11 but could imagine how some kid with nothing and longs for something would think that blowing himself up in the name of Allah would guarantee him a ticket to some serious skin would not think twice. Heck I had people I have known all my life believe that President Obama was born in Kenya and no amount of proof could change their minds. Every belief we have is constantly reinforced by our behavior-unless it is changed...and of course the only person that likes change is a wet baby.

Bin Laden died 65 years later to the day that Hitler pulled the trigger on his Lugar which has some wondering about the connection between the two. While the differences are obvious, Bin Laden at 6'5 and left handed with a serious kidney problem towered over the 5'6..uh left handed one testicled dictator. Wait a minute..65 years...Bin Laden was 6'5 and Hitler 5'6 both left handed...both sported some sort of facial hair..and had problems in the same basic anatomy set up. Hmmm..sorry for the detour.

Bottom line is that we live in a world of beliefs that have been either handed down from generation to generation or are born in an instant when in a moment someone takes an old belief and applies it to a new situation...like flying planes into buildings or executing millions of Jews. Both Osama Bin Laden and Adolf Hitler had another thing in common-they both believed what they were doing was right. Both have followers that still believe they are. We believe differently. We must...to remain sane.