The Wicked Problem
July 16, 2016

The last couple of years have been really bizarre.  For once I’m not talking about my life, I mean globally.  It’s tough when you write about the small things, the silly things and then come up against deciding whether to release a blog because the same day you wake up to news such as Nice.

Mum is in France at the moment.  She has a house there.  I never imagined I would genuinely be concerned for my Mum’s safety as she mooches around the south of France.  Now? I have a very genuine reason to be concerned.  We all do.  And it’s horrifying because it is on our doorstep.  You can’t watch the news and feel a sort of selfish relief that these attacks are happening a long way from home.  They aren’t.  I think Nice is a really scary example of that.  I guess my naivety has come to expect larger cities to be targeted.  Nice just seemed to …. Nice.

Andy was particularly happy the other day because he got to teach me a few phrases I didn’t know.  One of these was a ‘wicked problem’

A Wicked Problem is essentially something which is difficult or impossible to solve because the requirements are incomplete, contradictory, they are changeable.  Solving one part of it often leads to another problem and so it goes on.

Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan are all Wicked Problems.  More so now is the plight of the Islamic State.  The relationship I have with my daughter is a Wicked Problem.

So? What do we do? How do we move forward? How do we even begin to make things better?

In short? We can’t.

I have always loved Twitter, but I find it a truly horrible place to be when disasters happen.  I have an issue with the #prayfor message.  I don’t pray.  Neither do half the people who use this hashtag.  It annoys me and warms me all at the same time.  It is a sign of how many people, good people, are affected.  We hurt.  We want to do something.  Say something.  It’s pointless though, which is what makes me cross.  I am sorry for those amongst my readers who are religious but praying isn’t going to make things better, stop things from happening. And no matter if half the population of the earth are praying for the same thing, it isn’t going to ease the pain, clean up the mess, solve the Wicked Problem.  Essentially you are reaching out to those of us who are just as horrified as you.  The people causing this destruction aren’t going to stop due to an army of praying people.  It won’t bring back the dead.  It won’t heal the families who have lost people they love.  It will only make you feel better.

I suppose though, with a problem like this, we should be focussing on how to make ourselves feel better, what else can we do?

I also hate the memes that come out.  Specifically the one that tells me the only thing that cures hate is love.  No.  That isn’t going to work either.  The people who are committing these atrocities really don’t hold the same value for human life that you and I do.  We find that hard to imagine don’t we?  The reality of the disregard some people have for life.  I have spoken to people who have witnessed things I can’t comprehend.  Like the story I was told by a soldier who spent some time in Africa.  AIDS is everywhere in Africa.  Mothers with AIDS are having babies.  They have no regard to the death sentence they are placing on their children’s heads.  What shocked me though, about this story, is that this soldier witnessed the medicine that we send out, to help because we value life and believe they do to, being given to a Mother to cure her child and he stared in disbelief as SHE took the medicine herself.  The child being left to die.  Replaced by another.  And another.  I spoke to a different serving soldier who in Rwanda saw a Mother throw her dead baby out with the rubbish.  These are not individual cases.  This is life out there.  It is what they live with.

Love, sends out a message of tolerance.  Which to ISIS sends out a message of weakness.  It ought not too.  But it does.  They see a weakness and they expose it.  There are children in Nice, dead.  Children.  And we are accepting that because we don’t want to upset good Muslim people.  Of course we don’t.  There are loads of gorgeous Muslim people.  Sadly, giving love to Muslim people who are already lovely isn’t going to stop those that aren’t.   Did you know in Afghanistan the Taliban literally tie bombs to animals, cats, dogs and horses because they KNOW Western soldiers will try to save the animal.  They see a weakness.  They expose it.  Love, I am afraid, is not going to stop things.  It will just be used against us.

We cannot fix that.  We have been trying to educate, trying to solve, sending money, aid, people.  It is not fixing the problem.  Still? We do it.  And we should.  Because it makes us feel better.

Love is not going to cure the problem here.  Of course the flip side of that is hate, will hate cure the problem.  No.  Probably not.  If we decided – as Donald Trump seems to want – to ban all Muslims from our country or to kill all ISIS soldiers, we will only breed more hate which will create even more hate.  Which will leave us in a worse position than we are.

We have helped some people in Afghanistan.  Military presence for thousands of years have given more freedom is some areas.  However it has also given more reason to hate, to resist.

Praying. Love. Hate.  None of these things are going to fix the problem.

What are we going to do then?

I watched Sky News last night as the Military staged a Coup in Turkey.  I genuinely couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  I certainly don’t understand how they are going to solve that.  Or what it means for Europe.  The world.

It’s made me think?  What do I do?  To make this world a better place?

I think the only thing I can do is to focus on normality, amidst the madness.  I’m going to have to put my trust in our government and our military.  Although if I am honest, I don’t even know who is running our country at the moment.  But there isn’t much I can do about that.

My life is full of worries as it is, my own set of personal Wicked Problems.  To take on the worries of the world when I can’t solve my own conflicts, seems futile.

Maybe the answer is to switch off the TV, turn off social media and only worry about it if I find myself involved.  Although that?  That doesn’t really sit well with me.

Do we just need to accept that the world is full of unsolvable problems? Accept that we are no longer safe on our streets?  Do we need to get tougher and use force to wipe out the problems?  Removing any threat to our societies, even if those we are removing aren’t a threat?  Or is it our leaders?  Do we need to stage our own Coup?

Is the internet worsening the problem or just highlighting a problem that has always existed?  Are we, the general public, shown too much?  Should we go back to a time where we aren’t aware of the problems.

I honestly have no idea.

Perhaps the best place to start, is for people like me to accept everyone else’s way of dealing with what is going on.  Let them pray.  Let them push for love.  I don’t have any answers to offer.  All I can offer is understanding.  Empathy.  A desire to live in a more peaceful and tolerant world.

How we get that?  Well that’s anyones guess.

Stay safe.  That’s probably all I can say.


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