Big problems, small solutions

Why is it that we are constantly misled into thinking big problems need big solutions?

All our lives, we're taught that big problems call for big solutions. The more complex an issue, the more people – and the more money – that should be involved in finding a way out of it, whatever “it” may be. We're led to believe big important problems need big important names, big important ideas, and big important titles that are usually in the form of a witty acronym (the Milk Income Loss Contract Program for dairy farmers, abbreviated MILC, comes immediately to mind).

But all this “big” talk, to me, seems like a misconception. Arguably, it may even be one of the ideas holding us, our nation, our culture and our community, back. It’s no surprise that big solutions are often costly, complex and yet, for some reason, they're still favored by the masses, meaning they're usually implemented but eventually fail.

Perhaps big problems don't need big solutions so much as they need simple or creative ones. Maybe the reason so many solutions hit a stone wall, from the problems of Congress to our own local social-political issues, is that they fall victim to over-thinking (and overfunding). Maybe part of the problem is that the people with authority to solve big problems – be it a social, political or anything in between – have too big a budget and they look for ways to use that big budget. In a perfect world, there would be a perfect correlation between outcome and the amount of time and money invested in addressing an issue, but that's simply not the case. And this is far from a perfect world. Maybe it should be the people with extremely limited resources who should be responsible to find solutions.

I like to use pet therapy as an example; pets in nursing homes, in particular. Research studies have shown the benefits of having pets available to nursing home residents time and again. Just the presence of a dog perks the spirits of elderly residents, which has an impact on their overall health. Over the years, it's a method proven to be a relatively simple solution to a complex problem - and it's a far cheaper solution than investing in medical technology and research (after all, not every ailment needs a prescription, despite what hundreds of pharmaceutical television advertisements say).

But in my experiences, it's not always the simple solution that's sought first and unfortunately, it's not enough to just have a simple idea. In my opinion, real change – the kind of change that addresses the big issues we face every day – starts with something much more challenging; changing peoples' perception. It's a balancing act that examines some complex aspects of human psychology. Chenango County as well as other surrounding counties, for example, face the challenging issue of welfare fraud, a problem I certainly don't have a simple solution to. But we can't explore solutions to these kinds of issues without first believing that there actually is a viable solution (and poking fun of the issue definitely doesn't help).

Admittedly, this is all just an over simplified idea of the way I think things should be. When it comes to finding small solutions, maybe it's best to dream big and go from there.

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... @evesunshawn

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