What is My Role in Wicked Problems?

This class has already revealed to me many problems that the fashion industry has to tackle. In my daily life before this class began I was already aware of many issues facing the environment and the people who live in it but this class has made me all the more aware of it. I have been learning about the depth of sustainability issues for a few weeks now and it has become apparent that looking at them with a compassionate point of view is vital. I always try and recycle trash that I have and use only reusable utensils and other things but I have noticed how difficult it is to recycle everything. Finding recycling containers and figuring out how to recycle clothing is typically a chore. Although further investigation into many environmental problems leads back to big corporations and companies which leads to the conclusion that the world’s issues are not in the hands of the general population. This is why I believe it is so important to look at these issues with compassion and humbleness. At the base of these issues is the often hard to accomplish task of communicating the issues to people. Emotionally, not each person is going to understand these complex issues because every person is affected differently. For example, although I try and recycle regularly, I am aware that not every person has access to recycling bins like I do. I apply this logic to every wicked problem I encounter now and it has dramatically increased my sympathy for those affected by the issues. The way people grow up can also influence how they see wicked problems. It can be hard to relate to issues that you have never personally had to encounter. In America there is a very strong sense of self and often there is a lack of community betterment because of this way of thinking. This also translates into sustainability issues because people in the U.S. are less likely to support sustainability when is does not help them first hand. Another reason I can see people ignoring environmental issues is because it is a huge mental stress. When people learn about wicked problems that the world faces anxiety can be induced. Constantly having these thoughts in the back of your mind can be very intense, especially when one person cannot fix the big issue. Feeling out of control of a situation is inherently very stressful and this can be seen in wicked problems. It feels like humanity has created all of these issues and now we are in too deep to fix them at all. This is where mindfulness meditation comes in. While mindfulness meditation can be a positive way to ease the stress of wicked problems, it is also a good way to solve everyday stresses. In my life I use these practices to simply fall asleep some nights and control my thoughts during the day. When the thoughts of wicked problems start becoming too stressful, relying on mindfulness meditation can help you stay in the moment and realize you are doing your best and it is enough. After considering how people understand and care about wicked problems you must also consider that everyone will have a different end response. In an ideal world, each person would always do their best to respond compassionately but in reality, people only respond in the way they believe they should: good or bad. Once I educate myself on a topic, I do my best to respond appropriately and accurately. I believe being involved in this class has taught me that there are always different groups affected by wicked issues. Groups of people who you never even thought of could be affected by wicked problems. I have had to teach myself that if I do not agree with how someone responds to these issues, it is just how they have come to realize the issue. There is often little I can do to convince someone to see wicked issues from my point of view if they already have a different response in their mind. Before this class began I often found myself getting into arguments with my family over wicked problems and why we should care about them or why we should respond a certain way. These arguments never actually made anyone think differently, they just ended up in my family standing their ground even more. Now I am able to realize that sometimes I cannot fix things. I cannot be in charge of how everyone thinks because people will experience issues differently. When I think about wicked issues, my first thought is always “what can I do to help fix this?” but am I truly always willing to put in the work? I have also had to teach myself that forming a humble and compassionate response to a wicked problem is all that I can do in certain situations. If I cannot directly help fix an issue, the least I can do is see the problem with an open and compassionate mind. Knowing that my actions could affect how others view wicked problems used to make me nervous but now I am able to see that in a positive light. If my conversations can lead someone to do research on a wicked problem, then I have done something right in my mind. I believe being self-aware plays a vital role in my response to wicked problems so I try and always keep that in mind. With all of this in mind, I have come to realize that wicked problems have much more depth than I originally knew. There are many people and groups affected by them and that can control how people respond to an issue. Looking deeper into sustainability and environmental issues has lead me to understand why compassionate and humble responses to these issues are so important. Arguing back and forth over an issue gets nowhere while actively taking part of the solution is often the most productive response. Even if that means simply educating yourself and forming a conclusion that accurately represents the issue at hand.   

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