There are hard problems and wicked problems! I learnt this at a training course for Bishop’s the other week. f(x)=6f+15 is a hard problem, it needs skill, time and patience but there is a right answer – though please don’t ask me for it! Wicked problems are however far harder. They are those where there is no set answer, even more challenging they are those where possible solutions have their own repercussions some of which may make what is already difficult worse.
A wicked problem does not imply wicked people of course, sometimes they may be good people with competing needs and views, perhaps the desire of the Catalan people for independence is one such, in other cases that is less certain, self-interest, the oppression of others, aggression create a heady and unstable mix which such, as in North Korea, has the potential to lead to disaster.
What is certain is that ‘wicked problems’ need wisdom, they need thought and prayer. They need us to take time.
As I have reflected on this challenge my thoughts have turned to Jesus’ words in the beatitudes, that bless the poor, those who hunger for righteousness, the merciful,. These are words that I imagine spoken carefully, gently, slowly to bring peace and all but one in less than 160 characters! They are tweets before their time, but unlike so many tweets today, they are words of wisdom, to calm wicked problems to bring peace.
This is wisdom indeed, a wisdom from which those who lead our world today, and we who follow should learn.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God.’
The Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt Revd Robert Springett