Understanding a conundrum

Every time we see the news it becomes something of an outtake in how not to do things. War, famine, disease, jobs, growth, health and education always seem to be on the agenda and yet nothing much seems to be done about them. That’s not to say that there is no work done on them at all but we seem to observe the same problems over and over again and they never seem to go away. Why then do we believe these problems are being resolved when no one can truly make them disappear? Why do we keep on going with this conundrum that always keeps coming back in one form or another?

ConundrumA conundrum is an incorrect understanding of a misunderstanding. That is, it is misunderstood on the level we analyse it. For example, wouldn’t it be better off to cook and store all the food we wanted several months in advance and then rest easy? Of course, all the logistics would have to be taken into account such as costs for cooking so much food at once and storage requirements. However, wouldn’t it be akin to the long term investment of solar power on electricity prices but in terms of time efficiency? Normally, when we think about the one off costs of such acts, we compare the potential differences with the circumstances we find ourselves in. Familiarity breeds a lack of initiative and finally acceptance. Even if it is a time saver, that doesn’t mean we have to act on it but it begs the question as to why we don’t become the best of ourselves even if we have the option.

When we look at a conundrum at another way, we can do our best to understand the underlying problem. Why does a child steal cookies from a jar when told expressly not to by their parents? While conventional arguments will tell you the child does not have an adequate amount of respect for elders, a clearer logic (without further information) is that they want the food and see it as a harmless challenge. The truth is that we have to respond to this new piece of information before we can solve the puzzle that is the child’s disrespect. We give the irrelevant factor that much importance and we often miss the point and create a perpetual challenge that remains without being unravelled. It is in this way that we deem many of the challenges we face in our world as being ‘worked on’, not solved and the reason for their constant re-emergence.