Growing up I was always taught to put others before yourself. Being an only child I often found that somewhat difficult because I felt like I didn’t have anyone to put before myself, and I was also young and thought everything revolved around me. As I got older and had more opportunities to be more mindful of others, I began to believe that this only went to the extent of being kind and considerate to the people around me. However, once I got to college and started attending this class I realized that this was not the complete case. When I enrolled in the class “Wicked Problems of Industrial Practice” I expected it to be an economically informative class with discussions about intimidating business practices, and the so-called “wicked problems” would revolve around money. When the first day of class arrived and we watched the film “The 11th Hour” I quickly came to the realization that my assumptions of this class were completely false. You always hear on the news and social media about how our world is literally falling apart, but to see it for yourself how severe it is was terrifying. Watching the amount of pollution in the air and ocean, humans destroying the environment, and proof of our deteriorating atmosphere, was gut wrenching. I was heartbroken not only because it was happening, but because I knew that not very many people are taking much action to prevent it from happening. The first thought that came to my mind while watching this film was actually a clock in Manhattan, New York! On the Metronome building, there is what is known as the “Climate Clock” that counts down the amount of years we have to take action to prevent the effects of global warming from becoming irreversible. As of April 11, 2022 at 10:41 p.m, we have 7 years, 101 days, and 21 hours. The alarming number of years we have until the effects of global warming consumes the earth is one of the reasons why we need to take these wicked problems into consideration. What exactly is a wicked problem? There are many characteristics that can label a problem as “wicked” such as detrimental outcomes, particular or impossible solutions, and an irreversible deadline. Although the acknowledgement of a wicked problem is a small step closer to ending them, it still is not going to solve anything. That is one of the benefits of this class, it brings awareness of these situations to many people and gives them proper solutions to help end these wicked problems.
Coming into class the following week, we started by doing a guided meditation for about 30 minutes. I had some prior experience with meditation; I had a teacher my freshman year of high school that would have us do meditation everyday before class, and I would often do it at night when I had trouble sleeping. Doing the guided meditation in this class really lifted a weight off my shoulders and made me feel relaxed and less stressed out. Even though I enjoyed the meditation, I was actually left confused. Why are we doing an exercise that requires us to focus on ourselves when we should be talking about solutions to end climate change? We then began discussing the topic of mindfulness, and how it is the key to sustainability. Before this lecture, I would normally associate the word mindfulness to a more hippie and “peace and love” lifestyle, because that was one of their main stereotypes. It was after this lecture that I began to understand the importance of mindfulness. In order to be mindful of our surrounding environment, we must learn to be mindful of ourselves first. This does not necessarily mean “I have to put myself first”, it just means that understanding how your body and mind works could be the blueprint on understanding how the world works and what it needs. The guided meditation allowed us to become more aware of our mind and body; paying attention to our breathing patterns, letting our thoughts freely wander, and recognizing every physical feeling our body is experiencing. Imagine if more people applied this mindset to solving these wicked problems. If more people could become aware and were educated on the effects of these problems, it could result in a tremendous impact that could change this world for the better.
A phrase that I heard being thrown around a lot as I was growing up was, “There ain’t no rest for the wicked”. Normally, that was being used to describe some political act that my family did not agree with, or some sarcastic remark to loosely respond with. I’ve already discussed the definition of a wicked problem, but what exactly makes something wicked? When people use the term wicked, they usually associate it with something that is evil or devilish. Everyone has no problem labeling things as “wicked”, but you never hear anyone discuss if there is an end to wickedness. Does the wicked eventually get put to rest? On a normal occasion a simple answer could be something along the lines of doing a good deed. Referring to the song by Cage the Elephant “Until we close our eyes for good”, and maybe it will never go away. As catchy as the song is I truly believe that this is not the case, and that there are solutions to wickedness. That is one of the things I enjoy about this class. Not only does it give you solutions on how to solve these wicked problems, but it gives you the proper tools and guidelines you can take to achieve these solutions. Starting with mindfulness and being present with yourself and your body, to understanding the core problems with the world. Solving these wicked problems is going to take time, which is why we must act now as a society in order to make an impact. 7 years may seem like a while, but time moves when you least expect it and before you know it our planet will be destroyed. I look forward to the upcoming weeks of this class, and learning about what I can do to make a difference for our planet that we call home.