Every culture consists of paradigms, or customs, which are unique to that culture, and further complicate wicked problems. Our paradigms as a first world country differ from those of a third world country. Most Americans, whether they know it or not, have consumer mindsets. We spend and spend without noticing the effect we have on the planet. This wasteful mindset further complicates problems that are already critical. So how do we overcome this mindset? What can we do to help the planet? I believe that mindfulness may be the tool that can help us overcome these paradigms and give us a way out of our current situation.
As we learned in class, mindfulness and meditation can help us connect with ourselves and what is happening around us. Being able to focus on the present can help alleviate anxiety for the future and distress for the past. In my life, I have difficulty not thinking ahead to things. I stress about what is to come, or I sulk in what has happened. I want to be present, and I try to focus on the things around me. Sometimes, however, it is just too easy to get caught up in the ways of the world. Especially in college, it is challenging to not think about due dates or projects. When I focus on these things, I get caught up in the stress that surrounds them. Being able to relax and to clear my mind as best I could on Tuesday was a nice escape. But how does this help me each day? And how does it relate to this class? I believe that mindfulness is a great tool to help us connect with ourselves, but we have to be willing to take the extra step in order to confront the problems we have created.
A wicked problem is wicked because it cannot be solved the same way everywhere that it occurs. The culture, the economy, and the lifestyles of the people in the culture affect how a problem can be solved. Those aspects also contribute to the aftermath that can occur when a step is taken to fix a wicked problem. The “Yes/No” reading mentioned that an economy could change things such as global warming. On the “yes” side, the article mentioned that having a more developed economy and culture can help end pollution and climate change because the country has more money to invest in cleaner products and machines. I had a difficult time with this point. If advanced countries really cared about the effects of pollution, then we would not be producing things in bulk in countries like China just because it is cheaper. Our consumer-based mindset is focused on making money. People want things for cheap, and we want it fast. If we were concerned with using better resources and cleaner forms of energy then people in our country would not deny climate change, we would work to change it. The media would focus more on the negative effects of climate change around the world instead of politics or violence. The government would be passing more legislation to better control pollution. And I know some of these things have happened. Legislators have passed bills like the Clean Air Act. Celebrities are taking to social media to discuss climate change. Companies like Facebook and Google are researching and implementing new technology that will help the environment. But what are citizens doing? What is our mindset? Better yet, what is MY mindset? Maybe we could make a bigger difference if we, as citizens, paid more attention to our actions.
Learning about the effects of meditation opened my eyes. I try to be present and “in the moment,” but it can be difficult, especially during the stress of the school year. I can easily get lost in thought about what I have due in the next few weeks, or about what happened yesterday that upset me. And I do not think it is bad to reflect on the past or plan for the future, but, like we learned on Tuesday, it can be harmful if we stay stuck in those thoughts. Mindfulness and wicked problems go hand in hand. Or rather, without mindfulness, wicked problems become much more dangerous. In a culture that is based on consumption, we need to be able to look at our actions and notice how it is affecting the environment and those around us. I believe in creating a better world, but how can I do that? I learned Tuesday that the answer is by being mindful. If I am mindful in my actions and thoughts, I can implement change. Staying true to my beliefs of recycling and caring for the planet can slowly help change the current situation that we live in. Of course it will take time. It will take a lot of work. It will take us all working together, but I believe that mindfulness can help us change the world. We have to be able to overcome the paradigms of our culture in order to create a better world, but we also have to realize that not all paradigms are bad. Some aspects of our culture can be beneficial to fighting wicked problems, and mindfulness will allow us to better analyze those paradigms. So what can I do? I feel like I am asking myself this question a lot since this class started, but I think it is one of the most important questions a person can ask. I desire to make a change in the world, so I need to learn to be more mindful. Being mindful can help me stay true to my beliefs and desires to make the world a better, cleaner place, even if those beliefs go against the paradigms of our culture. My hope and goal is to become more mindful so that I might be able to take a positive step towards a cleaner world, and, possibly, help guide others towards this mindset too.