As I logged on to degree works last march, to make my schedule for this fall, I realized that I had missed taking a one credit hour, freshman level course. So as a sophomore, knowing this class was required for my degree, I hesitantly added it to my schedule. I walked into class on Tuesday, August 17th not even knowing the name of the course. But to my dismay, I had walked in to a class that would teach me about things that were bigger than myself.
The only wicked problem I had ever heard of before this class was world peace through a television show I watched when I was younger. And I was not even aware that that was a wicked problem or even what a wicked problem was for that matter. But as I have gone further in this course I have grown a greater and deeper compassion for wicked problems in the world. I have craved wanting to understand and grow in my knowledge of what wicked problems look like in our society currently and why they are considered to be wicked. One of the first questions our professor asked when we arrived to class on the first day was what makes a wicked problem wicked? And man was I stumped. With not having any prior knowledge to this topic, all I could think was that it was just an extremely difficult problem that people can not quite figure out how to solve. But in reality a wicked problem is wicked because it is a problem that can not be solved. It is a problem that many people try to solve but can not agree on a solution that will truly solve it. And when I heard this I began to ponder what my role could possibly be in problems of such great impact.
One big role I found that I can play, in the realm of wicked problems, has been mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way to completely connect mind, body, and soul. It is a way to be completely and fully aware in the present moment. Through mindfulness you are able to acknowledge your body’s sensations, think through your feelings, and understand your thoughts. With that being said, mindfulness is not something that just occurs as you go through life but it is something that needs to be practiced and become a discipline in your daily routine. Throughout this course I have seen my mindset towards the concept of mindfulness shift. When we first did a mindfulness practice in class I was confused and slightly uncomfortable. I had never done anything like it before, especially not in a room full of people that I barely knew. As I listened to what our professor instructed us to do, I found my thoughts going faster than they were before. I could not understand how to slow my mind and focus on the present moment. But as I have made mindfulness practices apart of my daily disciplines, I have started to see the benefits of it. I have found that sitting on the floor in silence brings a very calming and overwhelming peaceful mind space to truly focus on the mind, body, and soul. Meditation is another mindfulness practice that has helped me to fully be aware of and connect all of these areas. Lastly, I have found that belly breathing is a way to connect your body to be fully aware and present. At first, I could not figure out how to transition my breathing from my lungs to my belly but once I did it was a game changer. Belly breathing brings calmness and helps my mind to ease from racing but instead, it begins to fully be aware of my mind, body, and soul.
Through learning about various wicked problems, I have grown a passionate curiosity to the way I can make an impact in this area and be fully aware of these problems as they are occurring. One problem that has truly struck my heart is throwaway fashion. It is in my field of study and something we see way too often. I have gained a deep compassion for those that are directly affected by this wicked problem but have no way of fixing it because there are so many new problems that form as people attempt different solutions. I have tried to take a step back and look at this problem through the perspective of many. In taking this humbling approach I have been able to learn what one wicked problem can look like from the viewpoint of many people affected by it. In throwaway fashion, there are the employers who could possibly see what they are doing as something that does not harm the environment therefore, they do not take any steps to find a solution. Another lense to look through could be the people who work for the dumping agencies. Throwaway fashion produces a lot of waste, which creates a larger work load for the trash workers. One more viewpoint that could be looked at is environmentalists. They are the ones that first hand see and study the impacts this waste makes on the environment. Just by educating myself better on this one wicked problem, I have been able to grow a deeper compassion for those that are directly affected by problems like these as well as our environment as a whole because we only get one world and we are wasting it away.
I came into this course with a lack of excitement and no real idea of what I was walking in to. But just in five short week I have seen a change in the way that I view the world. I have gained a deeper understanding of real world problems that affect the environment, livelihoods, and the future. I have grown a compassion for the problems of this world and have learned how to take a humble perspective when educating myself on them. In these five short weeks I have gained an entire handbook of mindfulness practices that have slowly begun to become a part of my daily disciplines. This class has shown me that I can play a role in something bigger than myself.