Throughout this semester, I have been made aware of the different wicked problems that plague our earth. There is an unfortunate combination of many factors such as environmental sustainability, economic stability, and social wellbeing that mix together to create a multi faceted issue that often causes a lot of division, and a very small margin of productive decision making skills. In efforts to solve one problem, another problem is made increasingly larger. “Sustainability” means something different to each person, and therefor each movement towards growth results in a recession in other areas. There is little hope that this may ever be changed. The little hope I have has been made increasingly obvious as I have sat in on this course covering wicked problems, and I see the despair that permeates not only this land, but the people who have reigned over it. I still am grasping on to a small slice of hope as I continuously strive towards gaining a growing love and care for this beautiful earth, the diverse people who inhabit it, and the incredible opportunities for life that it sustains.
I find myself in so much shock when I learn of the different perspectives to these wicked problems and the presentation of each one in class every Monday evening. Caring for the earth is not a new concept to those who have proceeded past the 1st grade where it was taught that littering was not only illegal, but immoral as well. It’s all over cable news nowadays as well, no matter what side of the political isle you may find yourself on. Chances are you know at least one person that shoes at Natural Grocers and refrains from anything that may in someway negatively affect the environment in a negative way. But the concept that is new to me is the fact that choosing one side of the multifaceted cube of horrendous degrade actually causes a higher level of degrade on the other side. This completely sums up the divisive narrative that is being spread throughout this country. It is widening everyday as people scream at each other from across the isle about how their belief is somehow intrinsically better than the others while picking out the faults in their opponent’s proposition while ignoring the faults of their own. So there is an even thicker layer to the already deep wickedness in these problems. The similarities in these vastly different people is that at the heart of each one, they want to take care of someone or something and therefore it is worth defending. People still have that interest at heart, but have different approaches to improvement. Every week I see this different views in a very put together and informative matter, and I am intrigued by the variety of potential solutions to this ginormous wicked problem.
The concepts that we have discussed include arguments for the free market model, government regulation, support for the ever changing fashion industry, and a push for mindfulness that encourages less consumption. The idea that I personally truly believe in is the free market trade concept because I stand strong in the power of choice. When I have reflected over the choices that I am making that either positively impact the environment and those who inhabit it, or negatively impact our resources and those who are less fortunate than me, I have seen a lot of unnecessary purchases or unwise decisions that do not make the impact that I hope to. There are so so many opportunities for my purchases and advocacy to support a deep care for the beauty and vast resources of this land, increasing opportunity and productivity of economics, and the diverse people who spend their days creating the items I consume, wear, use, or cherish. Do I need to fall to the consumerism mindset and purchase unnecessary clothing pieces every time there is a new sale? No, because I will lose interest in them shortly because of my immediately gratifying choice of retail therapy, and therefore I will throw away the now boring clothes to a pile of trash that the environment will never be able to fully digest. Do I need to choose quantity over quality because I have conditioned myself to think it has a lighter impact on my wallet? No I do not because chances are those cheaply produced items contributed to the physical destruction of my environment and the social destruction of the worker. Do I need to choose trendy fashions that the people around me with a title or a popular image waltz around in all over campus? No I do not because not only will I regret the choice as I look back one day in my college photo album, but I am contributing to a society that will never be satisfied with the overconsumption that occurs each and every day in our broken world.
I have worked on choosing timeless pieces to express the joy from the places that have left a mark on me and the vast amount of adventures that await me ahead. I want to cherish the air I breathe in, the grassy plains, high mountains, and desert sands I walk on, and the landmarks that surround me. I want to change the stories of heartache and pain of those who are lost in the world because of how they are continuously taken advantage of. I want to make small daily choices that drive so many motives of the industry and the people who run it. My experience in this class has pressed into me new views and a new awareness of what sustainability can look like, and how personal it is to each individual on the journey. I appreciate the education this class has provided of both the impacts our decisions have on the environment around us and the discussion of opposing views on how to address these sensitive and urgent issues. I have learned to accept the diverse experiences of all individuals, and I have learned to extend empathy towards the choices they have made because of those experiences. There is not a singular right answer to these problems because there are too many problems to address that are tangled up with negative impacts of each other. In this world, individuals must pick and choose the issues to hold near and dear to their hearts, and there has been great division in what those should be.
The wide variety of opinions can work together to create a united fight against the wicked problems of this world that human beings have created. Choosing to educate ourselves in order that we might make choices that have a smaller negative impact on the other opposing areas of conflict is the key to a unified contribution that overall betters the planet earth and the large number of inhabitants of it. Supporting of another person’s efforts despite the different ways it may look in comparison to your own efforts. Accepting that we are all trying to achieve a better life for not only ourselves, but also those that we we hold closest to us. We must be cautious not to over extend our own energy or personal resources because of our deep desires to fix the many problems that plague this world. That is an extremely prideful approach that will further contribute to the increasing problem of overconsumption. The key to letting the potential that lies within all beautiful things and their desire to flourish into the fulfillment of their intrinsic role in this world is the moderation of our actions, goals, and mindset. When we over consume, overwork, overplay, overthink, overdo, or too anything that is not within the realm of capabilities for limited resources and living beings, all of our efforts go to the destruction of both ourselves and the other living beings around us. We must humble ourselves so that we may work hand in hand with others. We can make a beautiful place to live, grow, and flourish despite the differences of how we live, grow, and flourish. Let us come to the understanding that a difference in lifestyle is not grounds for complete division, but it should be used for a launch pad of new ideas and revised actions. Let us slowly dig our way out of our hopeless hearts by clinging to the hope that is magnified by working side by side with others.
The outlook that I now have to change my ways and encourage others to decide for themselves what a change should look like in their own daily lives now permeates my mind, heart, and soul. I have a new perspective of what each of my decisions my do for the wellbeing of others or the world beyond my own. I have chosen to think less selfishly and to intently focus my attention to the bigger picture of my consumerism nature. This class has widened my perspective to what life could look like if I lived with less. To make a personal effort to know where my money is going and where the tags I am sporting were made. A new respect and awe of the beauty that I get to adore daily and plan trips to see. I want to see more people, places, and ideas to widen my own mind of what life looks like for those outside of my bubble of human beings, geography, and views.