The Source of Dysfunction

The Source of Dysfunction


By Jahaka Mindstorm

A man blessed to have a variety of occupations in life can learn a variety of things. Some jobs teach more than others. I believe the most instructive occupation I’ve ever worked was technical support.

Tech support is the science of problem solving.

I have one fact and two theories about problem solving. Theory One – handed down from my mother; “A job well done need not be done again.” Theory Two – resulting from life experience – “There will always be problems to solve.” And the crown jewel – the FACT: “All problems are solved with the same two-step process: First, identify the source of problem. Second; eliminate that source.”

When you give it some thought, it’s clear to see that is the reason our nation seldom – if ever – solves any real problems. We are too quick to misidentify problematic causes and too slow to implement source level solutions. Let’s take war as an example – and the War on Drugs as a specific example.

The War on Drugs was lost before it ever started because it had no real target objective. And that’s because no problem was every CLEARLY defined and no source for that (or those) ambiguous problems was ever identified. What IS the “problem” the much-ballyhooed War on Drugs is supposed to resolve? Is it A) that people were getting high or B) getting high can lead to dysfunctional addictions or C) the totally insane amount of money made in the illegal drug trade by-passes the greedy pockets of special interests groups (like pharmaceutical companies, perhaps?)

Those three related – but still rather different – problems have different causes and therefore would have different solutions.

If the big problem is A) people getting high, you can only solve that by figuring out what makes people want to enter an altered state of consciousness in the first place. Is something wrong with THIS state of consciousness? What about the reality of living life in the United States makes millions of people want to turn on and tune out? And if “we, the people” were told the answer to that question, could we face the truth of it? Color me skeptical.

Quite simply, if the problematic priority is B) getting high leads to dysfunctional addictions; then the solution is very easy: Solve A! If people stop WANTING to use illegal drugs, they won’t use them, so any concern about epidemic addiction would be moot.

But what if the answer if C) the real reason we have heartburn about this illegal drug trade is that Big Pharm is left out of the payout? It’s clear to anyone with open eyes that money moves policy in America and equally clear that pharmaceutical-insurance-banking circle of interests have pockets deep enough to make a lot of policy moves. Like moving forward with the policy of a “war” against drugs, for example.

There are two major problems with our problem-solving dysfunction. First, because we fail to identify problem causes, we wind up treating the symptoms instead. Imagine if you had early stage of treatable cancer, but instead of getting cancer treatment, you’re only given medication to ease your discomfort. Treating the symptoms instead of the cause in this instance is probably fatal.

The second problem is our hyper-aggressive approach to problem solving. Why does is have to be a “war” against drugs? The object of war is to be victorious over a rival. It is ridiculous to personify a commodity – legal or not – as a rival. The same goes for the “wars” against poverty and/or crime. Instead of “fighting” a war against crime, how about a (real) movement for civility? Instead of a war against poverty, how about a (real) movement for more equitable distribution of wealth?

What’s next? A war against obesity? (Oh, we’re already doing that.) A war against the atrocious high school drop-out rate? How does one fight that problem? Because it’s a “war” perhaps it’s okay to just gun down all the kids who appear to be on the verge of dropping out. Don’t laugh, that’s no more ridiculous that using Common Incompetence – oops! I mean Common CORE – mayoral control of educational system or any of the other non-solutions people are talking about.

Basically, there is one more FACT about problem solving that should be mentioned here. The most enduring solutions are those born of deliberate thinking processes and careful, often incremental, action plans. That applies to the drug trade, the mis-education of our youth and the crushing weight of poverty in our community and in our nation.

Historically speaking, when “problems” that can be fixed remain long unresolved, then someone somewhere is resisting the implementation of real resolution. Ten times out of ten, that someone is making a profit or benefiting in some other way from the problems’ continuation.

It may be a little difficult to digest, but it’s certainly food for thought.