You might be asking yourself, “What is a Wicked Problem Really and Why do They Matter?” Well, a wicked problem is a social or cultural problem that is it is very difficult and/or impossible to solve. The six characteristics that make up a wicked problem are that there are variable problem solutions, variable solutions, solutions have no endpoint, solutions pose irreversible effects, solutions require unique approaches, and urgent action is needed. There are a lot of awful things wrong within our world, that does not necessarily mean that they are wicked. Some examples of the wicked problems our world is fighting right now include climate change, pollution, education, poverty, sustainability, and others. I never really thought about these things or knew I could make a difference until I enrolled in Wicked Problems (DHM 1003) at Oklahoma State University. This course has really opened my mind and my eyes to what is really going on in our world and what people are trying to do (if anything) to help. This class has also been very frustrating because we are not trying to solve these problems, but that is all my heart wants to do. I want to be able to fix these things but it takes so much more than a few people, plus there are no immediate solutions to try. I suggest that every student should be required to take this course, it would help make such a difference.
I responded a lot of different ways to all of the problems we touched on, but overall the most common reaction I had to them was sadness, helplessness, frustration, and some anger. I felt sad because these things affect every single person and the world we live in. The feeling of helplessness came over me because even if everyone did agree to make changes we still would not have a definite solution. It becomes so frustrating since you begin to care so much more about it than you did before you knew all the details involved, I do not want these conflicts to consume our environment. Thinking about how not everyone tries to make a difference or attempts to make more sustainable choices makes me angry, even though we can not control it as much as we wish we could. There is a lot of talk about ways we can reverse our humanity footprint on this planet and I believe this is a good way to begin a more sustainable world. The human footprint is a measure of the amount of energy, resources, and products consumed since humans were on earth. Earth is at a point where humans have reached the sustaining capacity and need to make changes. Examples of how you personally can help reverse this footprint are to lose plastics, reduce waste, recycle, run your dryer less, drive your car less, reduce water usage, buy locally, and switch to renewable energy!
One important aspect that we have gotten the chance to learn about is mindfulness, before every class we did a meditation and I personally really enjoyed doing it. I began doing it in my everyday life, I did it in the morning to start my day off positive and I also did it when I felt my anxiety was too much to handle. It is definitely something I will continue to practice because I still feel like a beginner on some days. What exactly is mindfulness? Well, it is self-regulation of attention that is focused on the present moment. In our daily lives, we get so caught up just nonstop going that we are not very mindful, nor do we take the time to take in and appreciate our environment and what is happening in the now. Being mindful means focusing on the truth/present moment and is not bound by thoughts, it allows us to become more aware of the ever-changing flow of life. Examples of some misconceptions a lot of people have about mindfulness include that it makes you emotionless, gives you a “blank” mind, is seeking happiness, withdrawing from life, or escaping pain. It is not any of these things, but it can help you calm your emotions, forget about the problems in your life, put you in a better mood, and give you a sense of what actually matters in life versus what does not. The role that being mindful plays in wicked problems is that if people were more mindful of the unsustainable choice they make or the actual issues that are growing within our world then I believe we would be able to make a great difference.
In my opinion, one of the worst things about wicked problems is that individuals think that they are too big for them to be able to make a difference. This is so not true, so many of the things we do in our everyday lives are beyond unsustainable. There are so many little and big changes we can make they will help make a change or somewhat reverse these conflicts. Making sustainable decisions not only improves our quality of life but also preserves our natural resources and protects our ecosystem. If we do not change our ways then the future generations might no longer have the basic needs to survive because past generations were so selfish and did not think about the long-term or their lives. The examples I gave before of how we can reverse our footprint are also some of the changes we should make, but others that will result in a better environment include going paperless, donating unused items, consuming less, using reusable water bottles, straws, and containers. There are so many more but the few I just mentioned are very easy and our planet would be so grateful that for once humans are putting their environment first. I have already begun switching my unsustainable habits to cleaner ones because it is the least we can do, I hope you do too.
To wrap it all up, these wicked problems that we are facing cannot be immediately solved, that is if they ever do get resolved. But, it does not have to be this bad or this intense. If communities one by one become more mindful of them, their effects, and what they can do to help our future generations then they might actually have all of the resources they will need. I am so thankful I got the opportunity to take this course and that it is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I always knew global warming, waste, homelessness, etc. were problems, I just never thought about their end results. If these issues do not hit you in the heart, give you a least a little anxiety, and make you scared then I can’t say you’re human. This is our home, where we breathe, and we are the reason it is dying. I hope we can all come together to acknowledge this and try to adjust our lives in a greener way. If you take one thing from this take that we should only use and consume what we need to meet our needs so that we do not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own.