And that works for us and against us.
As part of my day job, I teach a problem solving process that gets down to root cause. It’s a great process for dealing with computer issues and procedural issues. Yet, it’s virtually unnecessary in dealing with supervisory or interpersonal problems because the root cause is always the same: people.
People are the problem and people are the solution.
Father Richard Rohr says that the root cause “is always our radical egocentricity. Our problem is…our over-defended ego, which always sees, hates, and attacks its own faults in other people, and thus avoids its own conversion.”
When we seek to identify root causes of deeply entrenched community issues (e.g., poverty, equity, racism, education, hunger), we tend to describe the systemic models at play, develop alternate models, and then fashion steps to implement them. These are insightful and important, yet we forget that it takes many individuals, working together, to bring forth any improvements: broadening their awareness, mapping new understandings to their particular environments, and changing their behaviors.
Technical problem solving never works in adaptive situations. There is no fix. Carl Jung said, “the greatest and most important problems in life are all in a certain sense insoluble.”
Though we cannot resolve these problems, we are called to face them. We can learn from them, manage them, and continually improve our collective lot. We forgive our individual and communal imperfections and illnesses; we embrace life with its order and disorder; and we inspire one another to deeper understanding.
We set our intentions to a higher order of living together.
Rohr says, “We grow through necessary conflicts and tensions. I don't think there is any other way.”
May we embrace life and improve it, carrying our resolve with humility, compassion, and forgiveness.
Life is, in its very essence, a terrible mystery. But it is a childish attitude to say no to life with all its pain, to say that this is something that should not have been. The world is great the way it is and we are not going to fix it. We affirm it the way it is and participate in the game. We say “Yes” to it all. Joseph Campbell
Here’s a post from Richard Rohr on Ego: The Actor (read now)