You, my friend, are selfish. Yes, I am talking about you. I am also referring to myself, as well as everyone else coexisting on the Earth at this point in time. Look around. What you’re seeing now, everything under the sun, is broken, damaged, and (you guessed it) a wicked problem. What is a wicked problem? In my personal definition, I believe a wicked problem is an environmental challenge without a cognitive plan to overcome the situation at hand, or execute it in a way that affects future generations to come. It’s time we begin taking better care of the world we should love and start implementing better practices in order to solve our environmental dilemma. You may be wondering where I am going with this, and to provide you with a shortened answer –– sustainability.
I admit, before coming to Oklahoma State University, I never actually thought of sustainability and all it entails. Yes, I already prefaced that I too, am selfish, but I now realize that I was also oblivious; much like the rest of the world. I was aware of the problems within my surroundings because of social media and the news, however I did not truly understand to what extent of wicked problems we are facing or how to even go about fixing those problems. Beforehand, I thought the definition of sustainability could be summarized by the slogan: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Ironically, these are the three components of the actual definition, yet it can be explained more in depth through psychology. After the first few weeks of lecture in the Wicked Problems of Industrial Practice course, the definition of sustainability has expanded with each passing day. Now, I am able to associate sustainability with the two M’s: “Mindfulness and Meditation.”
After viewing the 11th Hour documentary, I realized that I was not the only person who was selfish within my own existence or oblivious to the true-state of the environment around us. The documentary allowed me to open my eyes and truly understand that we have been in a constant battle – practically a war – against mother nature, and with each passing day leading up to the present day, she has continued to have the upper-hand because of our lack of motivation to implement change within our personal lives. I compare my mindless behavior to the first people of the Rapa Nui population – also known as Easter Island. After critically dissecting the Lessons of Easter Island, I believe that the Easter Island habitants knew of the damage they were inflicting upon their environment, but because they were so mindless and concerned with money, power, and greed, they became oblivious to the fact that they were slowly killing themselves by destroying the environment that could have sustained a moderate lifestyle. In present day Easter Island, over 890 remnants of different Moai sculptures still remain on the island, yet hardly any descendants of the original population resides on the island, which will sadly become the reality for modern day American’s if we cannot reduce our individual and collective carbon footprints. In class, we were asked to come up with a “unimaginable, crazy, out-of-this-world” solution in the Wildest Thing Activity to combat the wicked problems we are currently facing such as deforestation, nonrenewable energy use, biodiversity loss, and much more as stated on the Activity One worksheet, yet I truly believe some of these over-the-top solutions may become a reality and our last resort to slowing the progression of climate change.
I cannot speak on your behalf, but I want to be able to provide a healthy environment for the future generations to come and help build a sustainable Earth so they do not have to face the challenges we are currently trying to overcome. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, which is still applicable to this day, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world,” and I firmly believe that a sustainable future starts with us as a human race. The longer we put global warming and the consequential wicked problems we are being exposed to on the back burner, the longer it has to simmer and will eventually boil over.