The world faces many problems – some of these are root problems which, if we strike at them first, will make it far easier to solve many other problems:

1. Corrupt Campaign Financing Laws: Even if we find good solutions, as long as politicians hear the campaign funders more than they hear the people, and are too busy raising cash, our democratic votes and voice becomes near irrelevant. Laws are passed which help those who hold the most cash, not society at large.  Tag things with rootstrike1

2. Media Distraction and Bias: Even if we find good solutions, as long as mainstream media ignore what’s important – focusing on personality and party battles instead of systematic problems, and shying away from structural criticism – it’s harder for citizens to get active together. Self-made social news sites as well as online communication channels are a part of the solution.  Tag things with rootstrike2

3. Censorship Through Blocking and Overly Restrictive Copyright: Even if we find good solutions, if we cannot freely spread them, they cannot be seen and implemented. Activists, artists and everyone else needs to be able to reflect on the world, and freely voice their thoughts. All government institutions need to be transparent enough so that we can make democratic decisions about them.  Tag things with rootstrike3

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There are many other hugely important and fundamental other issues. What about them? There is poverty, hunger, wars, diseases, threat of nuclear war, pollution, global warming, overpopulation, natural resources running out, peak oil, potential technical singularity, crime, bribery, health care in some countries, lack of efficient public transport, minority suppression, growing power of multinational corporations over governments, genocides, religious and political extremism, improper schools and education, racism, no equal rights for women in some countries, no equal rights for minority life styles in certain countries. These are all crucial, and some of them are also the roots for more problems – overpopulation, for instance, may trigger polution, war, and hunger.

There’s a story about a man with a bucket frantically removing water from his house, carrying out bucket by bucket. The water comes from a tap that’s been left open, pouring onto the floors, soaking the furniture all around. Asked why he doesn’t just shut the water tap, the man replies “I’m too busy removing the water here with my bucket!”

What RootStrike thus tries to focus on are root problems that, when solved, would help set up a system that would allow us to solve other problems easier. If we get our voice be heard in elections by striking at corrupt campaign financing laws in the US, then we’d have a good tool to further debate how to implement ways to deal with things like pollution. If we get media to focus on what’s important, either by continuing to create our own citizen media or by helping to change mainstream media, then people become more educated about what the real issues are and how we can deal with them. If we fight censorship in certain countries, then we can have an open debate about what problems there are and how to deal with them.

Indeed we should keep discussing all problems, including symptomatic problems; we are many and can split up our problem solving roles, simultaneously working on different issues. There may still be furniture to be saved from the water; we also need to ensure the house won’t break down while we’re reaching for the water tap. But we should also focus on where the water’s flowing from.

If you see a story in the news, an online discussion, or post something yourself online, you can reference people straight to one of the RootStrike pages like this one. They are intended to provide a short but multi-angled overview of the subject for readers to then delve into it further. You could point to a book – like Republic, Lost – but buying it could be a hindrance unless the person already somewhat agrees with the importance of the subject; so first, they probably need to see the argument, and second, buy the book to find all the details. These pages, then, are quick and free to reference and read. They are also trying to not be about party politics or specific personalities or movements (like Occupy vs Tea Party), as this will often cause us to immediately bring up our defensive walls even before we got a chance to objectively evaluate the argument.

You can also add a tag to your story, like rootstrike1, on sites like Twitter, Reddit, Google+, Blogger or Facebook, to help others find this activity for better coordination. The general tag rootstrike on the other hand can be used if you think you found something of general interest which doesn’t fit any of the currently listed problems. Thanks for sharing, debating and pushing the things that matter.

I'm also compiling a list of problems which you identify to be root problems in email feedback or comments elsewhere. Consider this site a starting draft and work in progress.

RootStrike is maintained by Philipp Lenssen, programmer/ designer/ stuffdoer from Germany. Got input? I’d love to hear from you via email.