When I walked into that glass-enclosed room on the 4th floor of Human Sciences, I was beyond elated. Our last class! No more crawling out of bed at ungodly hours on a Thursday, no more racing to class while gobbling a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was walking on sunshine & rainbows. But the instant our instructor said her final farewells, that annoying choky lump rose in my throat. Hurriedly, I turned back to my dry erase board, blinking away some very suspicious drops from my eyes, and concentrated on my final project.
I think, out of all the random discussions we had in class, the type of knowledge I contributed the most throughout the course was over the articles & readings, especially during the week we covered poverty and sustainability. I feel I had a pretty good grasp on what the article was trying to say, no matter how fancy and flowery the trimmings. So, even though I don’t have many experiences to share, I hope I made it up and helped my classmates out with hard points in articles.
Ok, some major takeaways!! First off, wicked problems can be overwhelming. The trick to staying afloat of the waves of stress is maintain a balance, and knowing when to take a chill pill. (Meditation really helps with that!) And this can be applied to other problems as well. Next, sometimes it will be difficult to find the missing link in a chain, but glimpsing the situation from another person’s viewpoint does wonders. Believe in the power of teamwork! But seriously, one person will notice things that the other one didn’t.
So, meditation was a really, really big deal during this course. It was something I wasn’t expecting, it startled me and threw me off guard. At first, I was highly skeptical. To quote my blog from Week 2: “I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but as I stared at the little green dot of paint on the sticky note, the world slowed down…when I opened my eyes, I felt more at peace than I’d felt all semester.” I instantly started noticing results, not just in class, but out of it. I cannot even begin to count the times meditation has helped me recharge since that first awkward session in a blue beanbag that Tuesday morning. And, last but not least, I CAN make a big impact by doing my part, counting on my circle of influence to do the rest. It’s like dropping a pebble into the ocean. It creates a circle of ripples, which in turn, starts another series of ripples, and so on and on. Anything I do will affect others. (fun thought…)
First off, there are a couple problems which I want to learn more about. The first of these is the relationship between poverty and sustainability. I was greatly intrigued by the coverage we did in class on this problem. And then I want to learn more about sustainability problems in my fields of study. I realized, with increasing alarm as this course progressed, that I barely knew anything about the wicked problems that plagued the field of DHM. (Design, Housing, and Merchandising.)
And let us not forget some proposed solutions (you know, balance out the bad with some good). Oooo, like the movement to implement cotton for farmers in India to grow: a method which stabilized them financially and reduced the number of suicides among them. Truth be told, this confused me at first, I struggled to form the connection between planting cotton and decreasing the number of suicides. But with the help of our dedicated instructor, I found the links and connected them.
So, even with all this new-found knowledge we’ve received, all these new sustainability ideas, just how much influence do any of us actually have within our social spheres? At first glance, my circle of influence seemed sprawling and unsteady. Then I looked closer. I live in a traditional style dorm, which houses a little over two hundred residents. Out of these two hundred, I know at least seventy of them personally, am mildly acquainted with around fifty, and all the rest are either nocturnal, or we rarely meet. So, these seventy peeps at least are within my circle of influence. And then looking outside my dorm, I have friends all over the place; fellow students, instructors, etc., and if they notice me recycling instead of throwing waste away, or using actual silverware instead of disposable dishes, this would encourage them to do the same. I mean, at first they’d definitely think I was on something, probably give me weird looks for a few days:/ They’d probably say something along the lines of “Girl, wtf are you doing?”, and I’d glance at them unconcernedly and reply “Oh, this is my way of helping save the planet, because…” and then go off on a whole rant on why exactly this is important to me.
Y’all, this is going to have to be a chain reaction. We have to step up NOW and do what we can to fight for the world we are slowly losing. We have to make the change, no matter what the current cost, because the endgame cost will be much worse if we do nothing. And when we step forward, we will inspire others to do the same, and that will inspire even more! Changing the world won’t rest on any one person’s shoulder, but each of us working towards a sustainable future in our own little way, all added up together? That’s what will save us. Remember all those peeps who said “Humankind doesn’t even deserve to survive”? We cannot allow ourselves to think like that. What separates us from everything else on this dying planet isn’t our ability to share coherent ideas or our opposable thumbs. What truly sets us apart is our tenacity to survive, our refusal to lie down and give up, and above everything else, our ability to bounce back from almost anything.