Joys from a Midterm


Problems look so simple on the surface.  I would refer to how an iceberg shows only its tip and compare it to how complex problems only show a little bit of themselves, but that analogy is so Titanically overused that I think it would chill our relationship a bit.  Let’s break the ice instead.

One major takeaway I received from the midterm is how far you have to go to get a comprehensive look at all the stakeholders and actors of any issue.  I had started to realize this through my ethics class and our exploration into consequentialist theory (where you try to do the most good for the most amount of people,) but listening to people talk about how we’re connected to China with our recycling, how entire communities need to address homelessness, and how a lack of empathy touches everyone added a new perspective.  It’s as Mark Twain said: “education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.”  I would say “paralyzing” uncertainty, but I’m not famous for my writing.

Another major takeaway relates to the first, and that’s the need for universal empathy.  We could really solve a lot of problems if people acted more like what churches and Sesame Street teaches that we should act.  That could eliminate our need for systemic change since most alterations of systems happen exclusively to change behavior.  Once behavior is changed, people can operate well in almost any system if they choose to act on it instead of being subject to it.

My third major takeaway is how important it is to apprentice with a problem.  Each of the issues discussed are very complex and deep, and making change will require coordinating and influencing many different entities.  Without spending serious time with an issue, it’s difficult to be a primary actor or major influence for change.

The world is full of large problems.  At least now we know to bring enough life boats.