Ryan Schucard: The Root Cause of Our Societal Rot and What To Do About It

Admittedly, I detest the term “root causes” when discussing political matters of the day. Perhaps it’s because Vice President Kamala Harris’ mutterance about the root causes of the southern border crisis is so obviously insincere. Or perhaps it’s because the phrase is as old as politicians standing on stage lying through their teeth, and just hearing it from a massively untalented politician like Harris is infuriating because her words are void of any urgency.

Whatever the case, her often nonsensical world salads did cause me to think more critically about the root cause(s) of America’s obvious societal rot.

At home, the crisis along the southern border has turned into a humanitarian nightmare and threatens the stability of our cities and surrounding communities as they struggle with unprecedented surges in crime and dwindling police force resources and officers. On top of that, seemingly every couple of months a new community is shattered by another mass shooting, and families in every demographic face rising drug use and trafficking alongside the ravages of an ongoing and often forgotten mental health epidemic.

Abroad, Russia’s dictator continues his invasion of Ukraine while communist China eyeballs an invasion of its own in Taiwan. Central America continues an economic descent helping to fuel America’s border woes while communist Chinese interests buy up land across the United States and Russia strangles Europe’s energy needs due to needlessly stymied American production.

It’s a lot to address for any administration but the Biden-Harris duo have pretty much sealed the debate on their ability to marshall America’s considerable resources to tackle both point-in-time and systemic problems. Even though Democrats are usually elected to take on the more esoteric and cultural issues, their current lineup of top party players routinely misses one opportunity after another to bring people together and pursue solutions – the very thing they promised in the 2020 election.

Take mass shootings for example. Democrats don’t address the root causes of these atrocities. They just cite the horrific (and embarrassing) statistics and then call for sweeping gun control measures. Republicans are less worthless rhetorically but still peddle out the same old talking points across their base and friendly media outlets. We don’t live in an era of progress or living up to our potential, we just switch partisan control to undo the actions of the past majority.

Then we all go about our lives as the media ushers us along from breaking news alert to the next until another shooting leaves more innocent Americans dead and empty seats and family gatherings. It’s pathetic. We can and must do better.

The root cause is in plain sight but finding a thinker and a doer who’s actually addressing it is hard to find. Maybe that’s because he spends his time with America’s youth teaching them about their role and responsibility in shaping their communities through cultivating themselves in a way that’s congruent with our societal values of respecting life, protecting liberty, promoting the general welfare of all, and remaining immovable in the face of evil.

Paul Coughlin, the founder of The Protectors program and student in human psychology, asserts that bullying – rather our society’s allowance of it – is the single biggest root cause contributing to the decay of our culture giving way for alternative and predatory political movements that grip the hearts and minds of our people amid tragedy.

“The ‘New Left’ is employing classic bullying tactics to overthrow our culture,” says Coughlin. “If we are serious about protecting our children from further massacre, and protecting our freedom to bear arms from further restrictions, we have to support comprehensive anti-bullying programs and related efforts.”

But what the left fails to recognize is that “cancel culture” and its cultivation of it has furthered the spread of the rot and even given license to bullies and dictators abroad who routinely deploy bullying tactics to maintain power and control the freedom of information. America’s political right isn’t immune to this phenomena, albeit metastasized differently, as they frequently devour their candidates in favor of inarticulated purity tests and “kiss the ring” allegiances.

So, while our elites play in a world of insulated “kiss ass” free from consequence, more tragedy incubates across our country.

“The Secret Service interviewed 37 school shooters. Nearly all of them said they committed the act as revenge against bullying. So was the case with the Texas school shooter,” says Coughlin. “But what most of our leaders don’t understand is that bullying has scale. It is not isolated in schoolyards though that’s our common reference when most of us experience the behavior.”

Stopping the spread of the societal rot can be done in much the same way as treating a common house plant’s root rot: identify the source of the rot (unchecked bullying), clean the roots (educate, empower, and train our nation’s youth), remove the affected areas (crackdown on the bullies turned criminals and embolden law enforcement), discard the surrounding soil (rejecting the violence and animosity cancel culture breeds), refresh the soil (replace cancel culture with the American values which have united us for centuries).

“It sounds simple, and maybe that’s why people sometimes dismiss bullying as a root cause, but the work of educating our youth is a huge undertaking,” says Coughlin. “It won’t be done by politicians or celebrities but it can be championed by them, better yet, lived out. Our leaders need to understand that bullying is incongruent to our values and stop rewarding some bullies while demonizing others.”

Coughlin’s words reveal something difficult to stomach; that all of us have been complicit in a culture of rewarding and normalizing political bullying as well as the deterioration of our civic and familial lives. We do this while we also attempt to lead on a world stage where don’t walk the walk any longer. America can only deal with bullies on that stage if we take care of the ones at home – it’s called leading by example.


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