Getting to the Root of Our Problems

Getting to the Root of Our Problems

Do you believe that mankind can solve the many problems that rob us of peace and security and that threaten our future? To be effective, any cure must surely address the root causes of our troubles, not just the symptoms.

To illustrate, a patient named Tom was sick and later died. Why did he die? “When his first symptoms appeared, no one thought to search for their underlying cause,” wrote the doctor whose hospital received Tom shortly before he died. It seems that Tom’s earlier caregivers had simply given him medication to make him feel better.

Are humans taking a similar approach to the world’s ills? For example, in fighting crime, governments enact laws, install video surveillance, and strengthen police forces. But these measures, while effective to some extent, do not address underlying causes. After all, behavior usually reflects attitudes, beliefs, and desires.

Daniel, who lives in a South American country that has a failing economy, says: “We once had normal lives. We did not dread armed robbery. But now there no longer exists a peaceful town or village. The failing economy has revealed what many people are really like​—greedy and lacking in respect for the life or property of others.”

A man whom we will call Elias fled from a conflict in the Middle East and later studied the Bible. He states: “Many young men from my home city were encouraged by their families and the political-religious system to get involved in the war and be considered heroes. Those on the opposing side were told the very same thing! All of this made me see how sad it is to put faith in human rulers.”

An ancient book of wisdom rightly states:

  • “The inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up.”​—Genesis 8:21.

  • “The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it?”​—Jeremiah 17:9.

  • “Out of the heart come wicked reasonings, murders, . . . sexual immorality, thefts, false testimonies.”​—Matthew 15:19.

Mankind has been unable to find a cure for the hurtful traits that lurk within us. In fact, those traits appear to be getting worse, as reflected in the problems mentioned in the preceding article. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) And this is so despite the vast amount of information that is available today, not to mention our unprecedented ability to communicate with others! So why can we not make the world peaceful and safe? Are we asking more of ourselves than we can give? Are we trying to do the impossible?


Even if by some miracle we could cure mankind’s hurtful traits, we would still be unable to make the world safe and secure for all. The reason? Our human limitations.

The simple truth is this: “It does not belong to man . . . even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Yes, we were not created to govern ourselves. In fact, we were no more created to rule over our fellow humans than we were created to live under water or in outer space!

We were no more created to rule over our fellow humans than we were created to live under water

Consider this: Do people in general like to have their equals tell them how to live or which moral values to live by? Do people like others to dictate how they should view such things as abortion or capital punishment or how they should discipline their children? These are just some of the issues that divide people. So, humbling though it might be, what the Bible says makes sense. We simply do not have the ability or the moral authority to rule over our fellow humans. Where, then, can we turn for help?

The most reasonable answer is for us to turn to our Creator. After all, he made us! And contrary to what some may think, he has not forgotten us. In fact, his concern for us is revealed in the wisdom found in the Bible. When we understand that unique book, we also understand ourselves better. And we can make sense of mankind’s sad history. We can see why, as a German philosopher once wrote, “peoples and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.”


A wise man once said that “wisdom is proved righteous by all its children,” or results. (Luke 7:35) An example of that wisdom is found at Isaiah 2:22, which says: “For your own sakes, quit trusting in mere man.” That sound advice can protect us from false hopes and unrealistic expectations. Kenneth, who lives in a North American city plagued with violence, says: “One politician after another promises to make things better, but they cannot. Their failures are a regular reminder of Bible wisdom.”

Daniel, quoted earlier, writes: “Every day convinces me more that humans cannot govern well. . . . Trusting in your bank account or in some pension scheme is no guarantee of a good retirement. I have seen people suffer terrible frustration in this regard.”

The Bible does even more than protect us from unrealistic expectations. It also gives us hope, as we will go on to see.