What if I were to tell you that starting tomorrow we all had to have the same beliefs, values and assumptions? Would it make you feel defeated? Angry? Would you even care? I imagine our world would be very bland in the sense that no one would be unique and we would be living in a cookie cutter world. Thankfully we are allowed to believe what we want, assume what we want and have our own values, which is the definition of a paradigm. Having our own paradigm makes us who we are. Unfortunately, just like a lot of other things in this world, a personal paradigm also has a negative side. With everyone having their own views and thoughts comes conflict and disagreements. Looking back now, I realize this is what has caused so many fights with my friends. We have different views on things, but we are all entitled to our own opinions and beliefs. I think this is one of the reasons why wicked problems are exactly that: wicked problems. The roots of wicked problems are differences, conflict and sometimes even violence. People have their own paradigms, so while some people may agree on a solution, other people disagree and think that the solution is wrong.
This past week in class has really opened my eyes and made me realize that I need to listen to both sides of things before I draw my conclusion on the topic being discussed. Usually I am so set in my beliefs and views on things that when I hear something that is the opposite of what I think, I immediately ignore, disagree and try to block out what the other person is saying. After discussing the Taking Sides of Western Values article and if they are compatible with sustainability or not, it really showed me that both views of the topic, or both paradigms, have good points to think about. After listening to people talk from both the “yes” and “no” teams of the discussion, I even agree with some of the things the “yes” team was saying, even though I was on the “no” team. I’ve realized that just because I have felt a certain way about a topic, it does not actually mean that what I thought is necessarily right. How much of my belief was based on what I was told by other people like me (same ethnicity, same socio-economic background, etc.)? Was it because that is the opinion my parents have, so I just adopted their opinion as my own? How much was based on my own observations? The list could go on.
If people in the world would take a moment to really listen to both sides of an issue before making up their minds on what they believe is right or not, I think we could create solutions for many problems our world has, including ways of making our world more sustainable. How many problems could have been avoided in the past if those involved had really taken them time to consider all viewpoints?
After class this week, I reflected and realized how much I care about materialistic things in my life and of how I have become so unmindful of the world happening around me. It made me realize that our world is becoming more and more unstable with each unsustainable thing we do. This class has made me really think about the future and how my actions are contributing to the unsustainable ways. It made me wonder why I do this. The answer is what everyone seems to think, “I need the best and newest thing for me to be the best version of myself.” This idea of the want and need for individualism and consumerism is seen throughout the world. In the article Are Western Values, Ethics and Dominant Paradigms Compatible with Sustainability, it talks about how consumerism and individualism may lead to consequences like pollution and the depletion of natural resources, and I could not agree more. When people only care about the next big item that is coming out in the market, they do not think about how that is going to affect the environment in an unsustainable way. The article also talks about how it will take us a long time to fix our mistakes but poses the question, “Can we really fix our mistakes?”. I do not think people are willing to give up their nice things and businesses, to stop inventing new items and to lose money so that our world will become sustainable. I think the world, including me, is so caught up in materialistic things that it is all we care about. We don’t stop to think that the things we purchase may have a negative impact on sustainability. I know I do not ever think about where an item I purchase will end up once I am done with it. I also feel that we are so focused on how to improve things that do not even need to be improved necessarily, that we will never be able to be satisfied with what we have.
One way that I think we could fix problems due to disagreements from everyone’s personal paradigms and the unsustainability of our future is by being mindful. Mindfulness is being aware of one’s personal thoughts and feelings, focusing on the present and to focus on one’s mental health. In the article Mindfulness and Sustainability, it talks about how our well-being correlates with sustainable behavior and that being mindful can improve relationships. By being mindful, we can take care of our personal problems through meditation and improve relationships with others through loving-kindness meditation. This could start a domino effect and lead to sustainability and creating solutions to wicked problems. If we focus on the things that really need to be fixed, like climate change, pollution, population growth and all the other wicked problems we are encountering, I believe we can find solutions. This will involve being mindful, really listening to other people’s paradigms and ideas before setting our minds on what we believe, and focusing on the real problems of the world before we try and improve unneeded or less important things. If we follow all of these things, I believe we could go from having no future to have the most sustainable one we can imagine.