The trouble with superficial remedies

When a tea kettle whistles, we can turn down the fire under the tea kettle -- or we can merely put a finger on the hole and hope the steam pressure does not blow up in our face.

When people are hungry, we can take them on a fishing expedition so they learn how to fish for themselves -- or we can give them a fish and hope they don't come asking for another.

When a person in a powerless position gets persecuted, we can put them in a powerful position -- or we can rescue them and hope they change in spite of keeping them "in their place".

When the lightbulbs are burning out repeatedly, we can look for short circuits, power surges and manufacturing defects -- or we can change the lightbulb again and hope this one does not burn out like all the others.

When we opt for the superficial remedy, we can recognize a pattern of:

  • solving an isolated problem instead of solving for pattern
  • oscillating amidst first order changes instead of pursuing second order transforming
  • opting for a quick fix instead of a long term investment in prevention
  • thinking reactively out of fear instead of proactively with creativity
  • opposing the threat rather than working with the opposing interests
  • maintaining the problem instead of changing the diagnosis of the problem
  • enabling the addiction rather than breaking the cycle of co-dependency
  • establishing the simple facts rather than inferring the complex system
  • trusting a single point of view instead of looking through several lenses
  • imposing a linear model on the mess instead of modeling the self reinforcing cycles

When we don't see these troubles with superficial remedies, we also won't see that our cherished remedy is superficial. We have become part of the problem. We will find ourselves trapped in dishing out more of our superficial remedy at great expense, sacrifice and potential martyrdom. When we succeed at seeing these troubles, we will also see which remedies are superficial. We have entered the solution space where problems lose their steam. So much can improve by seeing remedies as recognizable patterns.

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