Let’s say you have a knotty problem you would like solved, a Gordian Knot type problem for example. Would you be satisfied with an Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE) approach? I think not, and I think Alexander’s personal tutor, the great problem solver Aristotle (384-322 BCE), would have reproved his famous pupil for hacking the knot in two instead of untying it. Alexander did provide a simple analysis to a complex problem, but he did not solve the problem; he only avoided it.

As most of us have unfortunately experienced: for every complex problem there is a simple wrong answer. Tough problems are tough because they are complex. Complex situations almost always require hard work, imagination, intelligence and often good will to resolve. If the first reaction to a hard problem is to seek someone else to blame, or if assessing blame is more important than finding a solution, a solution may not be found or may result in even more harm while an effective remedy awaits.

When it comes to addressing problems I respectfully suggest to you, Gentle Reader, that there are at least two large categories of potential problem solvers: (1) those people who through meanness, laziness or ignorance claim the problem cannot, or should not, be solved; and (2) those people who with an open mind and good will at least try to find a solution.

We have all unfortunately encountered many officious persons who revel in their occasional positions of power over others and deny help just because they can. Then too, we have all been blessed, and maybe surprised, by a chance encounter with a person who believes if they can help they should.

Life is pretty much defined for us by whether we run into more people who are haters or helpers, selfish or selfless, grifters or givers, sophists or sages, or as with our most pressing current problem: (1) public servants and consensus builders; or (2) those who yell “Fire!” in our country’s theater instead of helping to put it out.

— James (Jim) M. Redwine was born in Pawhuska, Osage County, Oklahoma. He is a graduate of Pawhuska High School, Indiana University, I.U. School of Law, the Indiana Graduate Judges College and the National Judicial College. He lives at JPeg Osage Ranch in rural Osage County, Oklahoma with his wife, Peg. Jim and Peg have 3 grown children, 7 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.