An Open Mind and a Hurting Heart

My initial reaction to a class with the words “Wicked Problems” in the title was not positive to say the least. It was a class required of me to take for my desired career path, therefore, it was something that I was just going to have to go to and get through. After the first day of class I was a little worried that the class would be slightly political and could potentially become an uncomfortable environment that I would have to endure for the next seven weeks following. I was afraid that they would be a long seven weeks of early mornings, argumentative conversations, and people having differing opinions on a variety of possibly important topics, but definitely not anything that would directly affect me personally. Right?

Wrong. I am here to say that I am just over halfway through this class and it has already been proven that I was incorrect on several levels to have had my negative initial assumption. For weeks after that first day and my worldly knowledge on a variety of topics has expanded beyond what I could have even thought would be possible. There have been no awkward overly political debates. Instead, it has been a class with a very friendly and inviting space filled with open and honest conversations on very important topics that actually could affect me or my future family much sooner than later.

This class has challenged me to break past judgement and assumptions and to just open my mind to the possibility of new and different concepts. I have learned how to be open minded towards new ideas and concepts. For example, over the last couple of class periods we have been encouraged to try different techniques of mindful meditation. Now I’m the kind of person who has never even considered meditation and would be the last person to actually try it, or frankly anything of that sort because I did not understand how diverse meditation was. I had never really heard of meditation with the concept of mindfulness attached to it before this class. I thought meditation was sitting criss cross applesauce on the floor and saying “oouuummmm” repeatedly like you might see in movies. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that, but it was definitely not my type of thing. After being informed on the concept of mindful meditation and hearing about the possible benefits to just taking a small portion of time to slow down and sit in silence with your thoughts for ten minutes or so I was intrigued. After being encouraged to give it a shot, I realized how peaceful and relaxing it was. I am a major busy body and getting myself to sit still and slow my thoughts was a major challenge at first especially with my self-diagnosed ADHD and early morning caffeine jitters, combined with nervousness induced by my sometimes crippling social anxiety, but once I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing those little worries slipped away for the time being. I had an open and clear mind before starting the discussion about each day’s topic of concern, and was just more relaxed than before.

I truly believe that starting the class period off in this way helped me to put my little personal “problems” aside and really focus on engaging in conversations about the true “wicked” problems at hand. I never would have thought that I would have actually tried to participate in meditation, much less actually enjoy it and realize the potential in mandating it in my everyday life. I guess that is a perfect example of why you should always have an open mind towards things that you don’t completely understand. Lesson learned.

 I think that this idea of having an open mind is perfect for exploring subjects like sustainability. Sustainability is something that I have been hearing a lot about within the last couple years. I figured yes it was probably important to be better about the way we as humans are living and consuming, but I had no clue it would be as big of a deal to me as it feels now. This class has showed me how much bigger of a problem we are facing and how important it is to make it a  priority to take a look at what we could all do better in regards to sustainability.

My heart physically hurts sometimes when I leave class after a long discussion about one of the wicked problems we are facing in our world today. Hearing about how poorly we are treating our beautiful planet and how little action we are taking to help change our ways makes me sick. I am also confused over how little these huge issues are talked about. I feel like it is not public knowledge the rate at which we are spiraling downward. It blows my mind that so few people know how bad off we are, much less those who care enough to change their self-fulfilling habits. That is another thing I have noticed in this class is us as humans are so insanely consumer based it is ridiculous. We want and want and buy and buy and still are a part of a generation that lacks fulfillment and continue to want the new, bigger, and “better” shiny thing that hits the stores, and will do whatever we can to get our hands on it. This idea makes me so sad because it is no way to live life, definitely not at the expense of our planet.

I truly believe that we as a society have a lot of work to do. I do not know if we will be able to reverse the extreme amount of damage done, but I do know it doesn’t hurt to put forth effort and start small. I know I, myself want to start doing even more research to see ways that I can start changing my habits and truly try to do better. I also want to take the information that I have learned and tell other people and encourage others to take part in changing their ways for the better, because if others are willing to have an open mind and hear me out then I feel there is no way they won’t also feel saddened and hurt to know where we are headed.

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