Five Worldviews: The Way We See the World, Part 4

The Center for Global Awareness is launching a new initiative in the fall of 2017 called Global Awareness Conversation and Study Circles or Gather for short. The mission of Gather is to enhance adult learners’ global awareness by offering conversation materials that holistically present significant global topics using a unique four dimensional approach called SEEK: see, evolve, engage, and know. SEEK By participating in this conversational program, participants will be able to know more about significant global topics, see different perspectives and views, evolve positive attitudes and shift behaviors, and engage more actively in helping to solve pressing global concerns through interacting more deeply with others. This blog series will focus on the See dimension.

Many different variables influence our views. One of the influences is our particular worldview. I believe worldviews are such an important contributor to the way we see the world that I have written a short book called Five Worldviews: The Way We See the World. 02 cover In this 4 part-blog series, I would like to share with you excerpts from the book that I think are relevant to understanding and helping to transcend the deep gulfs between people today.

Awareness of worldviews with their embedded meanings can be the seedbed from which new, shared meanings emerge. These shared meanings may arise as people co-create new stories, as already mentioned, design new rituals, discover myths, find inclusive metaphors used by a group, and create new identities that lead participants to humanize each other even as they pursue their social and legal agendas about differing issues. As we positively engage with each other, we can learn efficiently and deeply about group members’ identities (who they see themselves to be) and meanings (what matters to them and how they make meaning). 02 cover When we do this with each party to a conflict, places of connection and divergence may become clearer, leading to a better understanding of the conflict in context.  

When bridging the divide between two or more worldview, a goal is to uncover universal commonalities that all people share despite differences. This may be easier said than done, but the process in the discovery is also a way to build bridges. A few of the universal commonalities that we all share include dignity and respect for all, the right to advocate for a point of view without fear of violence or reprisal, love and acceptance, security and safety, protection, incremental progress that improves lives, universal love and many more. The universal enjoyment of music, sports, entertainment, dance, and family is a shared interest that goes beyond differences and is a good subject for stories and conversations with those we perceive as different. values We have more that binds us together than divides us.

When worldviews are not in our awareness or acknowledged, stronger parties in conflict may advertently or inadvertently try to impose their worldviews on us. Far more profound than trying to impose a particular solution to a conflict or a way of communicating, the imposition of a worldview can be destructive to a whole way of life. For example, judgments are one way in which one party tries to impose its worldview on another. Judgmental people who criticize and spread negative energy do this from the overflow of negativity that they have within them. When people label others as racist, bigoted, hateful, ignorant, homophobic, misogynists, baby-killers, murderers, white trash, or other hateful terms, the accuser is asserting that s/he has the moral high-ground and his/her values prevail. Those accused feel judged, demeaned, humiliated, and stripped of their dignity. When attacking those that seem to be in the wrong, the attackers must be aware that this assault is likely to make the situation even more extreme. judgement If the purpose of attacking those we disagree with by using judgmental language is to change their behavior, the chances of doing so are significantly diminished by employing this tactic. Thus, the attacker’s real purpose in using judgmental language is to shame the target population while thinking that s/he is morally superior. 

When studying worldviews, it is helpful to realize that no one experiences reality directly. We all experience reality through our perceptual filters or our own lenses. We assign meaning to our experiences as they happen, and the meanings we give to our experiences are influenced by our attitudes and past experiences. It pays to remember that when we judge a situation—or when we assume something about someone else—we are doing this according to our perceptions of the event, not the actual event itself. Our worldviews may be hidden to us, but they are always active.

This is the final installment in a four-part blog series that began on June 20.  If you find this information interesting follow and like us on Facebook.

I hope you enjoy reading about worldviews as much as I have had writing about, teaching, and researching the topic. If you are interested in finding out more information about Gather (Global Awareness Adult Conversation and Study Program) or starting a Gather conversation group this fall, please email us at info@global-awareness.org. Our purpose is to connect with others, to learn deeply, to unfold our hearts in empathy, to see with new eyes, and to activate our hands in engagement. Good luck to all of you!

Kind regards,

Denise R. Ames

questions-to-consider

  1. Examine several judgments that you frequently pass on others.
  2. How can you reframe these pronouncements so they are not judgments?
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Five Worldviews: The Way We See the World, Part 3

The Center for Global Awareness is launching a new initiative in the fall of 2017 called Global Awareness Conversation and Study Circles or Gather for short. The mission of Gather is to enhance adult learners’ global awareness by offering conversation materials that holistically present significant global topics using a unique four dimensional approach called SEEK: see, evolve, engage, and know. SEEK
By participating in this conversational program, participants will be able to know more about significant global topics, see different perspectives and views, evolve positive attitudes and shift behaviors, and engage more actively in helping to solve pressing global concerns through interacting more deeply with others. This blog series will focus on the See dimension.

Many different variables influence our views. One of the influences is our particular worldview. I believe worldviews are such an important contributor to the way we see the world that I have written a short book called Five Worldviews: The Way We See the World. In this 4 part-blog series, I would like to share with you excerpts from the book that I think are relevant to understanding and helping to transcend the deep gulfs between people today.

02 cover My book Five Worldviews: The Way We See the World examines one of lenses through which we see reality: worldviews. The five worldviews—indigenous, modern, fundamentalist, globalized, and transformative —that I have developed and presented in this book are not the only way that we can see differences, but it is one of the lenses that help shape our perception of reality. The purpose of the book about worldviews is to help us become more aware of the diversity of thoughts and opinions that seem to be more prevalent today than in the past and to look into each other’s worldviews without necessarily trying to change them. Since individuals are very resistant to changing their worldview and resent those who try to do so, the point of learning about other worldviews is not to gain the tools to change another’s worldview but to become aware of the existence of different worldviews and empathize with those holding differences. 02 cover If we are aware of different worldviews, we may stop expecting “the other” to change his/her worldview and realize instead that “the other” makes sense of the world from his/her own worldview. In other words, we may find that the other side’s outrageous or nonsensical ideas actually become reasonable and sensible when seen from their point of view.

Why do we need to be aware of others’ worldviews? It is more comfortable to reside in our own bubble with people around us who have the same worldview, and our ideas and actions are unchallenged. But large, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and diverse countries like the United States, and increasingly many other countries around the world, are not homogeneous entities, and this requires their citizens to engage with others to uphold democratic processes and peaceful co-existence. bubble Citizens cannot remain in their own insulated bubble and still have a vibrant democracy. We all need to make an effort to gain the skills to navigate a more diverse world, which includes people from different lands as well as those who are our fellow citizens but live in a different state or zip code. 

Becoming more aware of different worldviews and engaging with those who hold a different worldview is difficult and often descends into shouting matches, hateful language, vile stereotypes, bullying, and other forms of conflict. Conflict resolution processes need to help people look into each other’s worldviews without trying to change them. It is possible to uncover shared values, or shared aspects of values, without fundamentally changing worldviews. Developing approaches to uncover shared values is an important area for development in conflict analysis and resolution. It is also one of the hoped-for end results of reading and discussing this book.

ethicaldecsionsUnderstanding worldviews can be a resource for empathy and analyzing conflicts when fundamental differences divide groups of people. One of the ways to help express one’s worldview is through the dialogic process of creating new or personal stories of how individuals came to their worldview and telling others about their heroes and heroines. In doing so, they reveal information about their identity, what they find meaningful, their ideas about the nature of life, relationships, and “right living.” By listening deeply to other stories, we will find it harder to sustain negative images of the other, recognizing instead commonalities that had previously been unseen. From this base of empathy, individuals are able to explore shared values with more ease, while not losing sight of the aspects of values they do not share. Similarly, sharing stories of heroes helps participants glimpse what is important to others and uncover values they share.

Find out more about the five worldviews in this four-part blog series which concludes on July 11.  If you find this information interesting follow and like us on Facebook.

I hope you enjoy reading about worldviews as much as I have had writing about, teaching, and researching the topic. If you are interested in finding out more information about Gather (Global Awareness Adult Conversation and Study Program) or starting a conversation group this fall, please email us at info@global-awareness.org. Our purpose is to connect with others, to learn deeply, to unfold our hearts in empathy, to see with new eyes, and to activate our hands in engagement. Good luck to all of you!

Kind regards,

Denise R. Ames

questions-to-consider

  1. What do you think are several core values connecting you with others that you may disagree with?
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Five Worldviews: The Way We See the World, Part 2

The Center for Global Awareness is launching a new initiative in the fall of 2017 called Global Awareness Conversation and Study Circles or Gather for short. The mission of Gather is to enhance adult learners’ global awareness by offering conversation materials that holistically present significant global topics using a unique four dimensional approach called SEEK: see, evolve, engage, and know. SEEK By participating in this conversational program, participants will be able to know more about significant global topics, see different perspectives and views, evolve positive attitudes and shift behaviors, and engage more actively in helping to solve pressing global concerns through interacting more deeply with others. This blog series will focus on the See dimension.

Many different variables influence our views. One of the influences is our particular worldview. I believe worldviews are such an important contributor to the way we see the world that I have written a short book called Five Worldviews: The Way We See the World. In this blog series, I will share with you excerpts from the book that I think are relevant to understanding and helping to transcend the deep gulfs that divide people today.

02 coverWorldview is one of those terms that has multiple meanings and is often used inconsistently. I am defining the term worldview as consisting of basic assumptions and images that provide a more or less coherent, though not necessarily accurate, way of thinking about the world. Worldviews are those systems or structures within which our values, beliefs, and assumptions lie. They influence how we see ourselves and others and how we make meaning of our lives and form relationships. Worldviews keep our lives coherent by giving us a sense of meaning, purpose, and connection.

When I started the Global Awareness Adult Conversation and Study Program, I wanted to expand the typical way of studying global issues and cultural topics in which information is presented and acquired, to one in which participants would not only learn information but would develop an appreciation for the different ways in which individuals see the world. This approach would help participants evolve their own capacity for understanding others and encourage engagement in creating positive change. Thus, the four dimensions of SEEK emerged as see, evolve, engage, and know.

The SEE dimension to me is a vital component in the program. Many of us live in a bubble, surrounded by people who have similar views on issues and comparable lifestyles, and who read the same books and listen to media that support our views. When we have a conversation about a controversial topic, we rarely hear conflicting views, which reinforces the notion that we are obviously right. bubbleMany of us rarely step outside our bubble to see other people’s views. Even on some college campuses, the natural place for conflicting ideas, the speech of opposing voices is sometimes stifled because it is considered hostile, troublesome, or can “trigger” unpleasant emotions. This pattern of restricting behavior is detrimental to a democracy and hampers the interaction of different people in sustaining institutions that support a vibrant nation and economy.

The 2016 presidential election exemplified this “bubble phenomena.” Many Hillary Clinton voters were stunned when there was a backlash among half of the voters against her liberal worldview in which minority rights were supported, preserving the environment was a priority, and a professional class of experts, not just billionaires, would help shape governmental policy. 2016electionThis dramatic and far-reaching electoral backlash exemplified the opposing ways in which half of the electorate saw issues through one lens while the other half saw issues very differently.

The See Dimension of Gather has been developed to try and make some sense of the multiple perspectives that are expressed by each person. Although the different “modes of seeing” that are explored in the See Dimension will not give a complete picture of reality, as this is impossible anyway, its purpose is to give an overview of several different lenses through which reality is perceived. From cross-cultural awareness, to systems thinking, cultural identity, individual personality traits, and worldviews, the many different lenses through which we see reality are explored.

02 coverMy book Five Worldviews: The Way We See the World examines one of lenses through which we see reality: worldviews. The five worldviews—indigenous, modern, fundamentalist, globalized, and transformative — that I have developed and presented in this book are not the only way that we can see differences, but it is one of the lenses that help shape our perception of reality. This book does not aim to neatly categorize all people into one of the categories, as you may find that you or others you know may identify with two or more worldviews. I know I do. But the book gives you a range of beliefs that are firmly held by a wide variety of people in the U.S. and the world.

Find out more about the five worldviews in this four-part blog series continuing on July 5 and July 11. If you find this information interesting follow and like us on Facebook.

I hope you enjoy reading about worldview as much as I have had writing about, teaching, and researching the topic. If you are interested in finding out more information about Gather (Global Awareness Adult Conversation and Study Program) or starting a conversation group this fall, please email us at info@global-awareness.org. Our purpose is to connect with others, to learn deeply, to unfold our hearts in empathy, to see with new eyes, and to activate our hands in engagement. Good luck to all of you!

Kind regards,

Denise R. Ames

questions-to-consider

  1. Do you think there are benefits of “seeing” other perspectives and viewpoints?
  2. Do you live in a “bubble”? If you think it is important to live outside of a bubble, how would you go about emerging from your bubble?
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Five Worldviews: The Way We See the World, Part 1

The Center for Global Awareness is launching a new initiative in the fall of 2017 called Global Awareness Conversation and Study Circles or Gather for short. The mission of Gather is to enhance adult learners’ global awareness by offering conversation materials that holistically present significant global topics using a unique four dimensional approach called SEEK: see, evolve, engage, and know. SEEK By participating in this conversational program, participants will be able to know more about significant global topics, see different perspectives and views, evolve positive attitudes and shift behaviors, and engage more actively in helping to solve pressing global concerns through interacting more deeply with others. This blog series will focus on the See dimension.

Many different variables influence our views. One of the influences is our particular worldview. I believe worldviews are such an important contributor to the way we see the world that I have written a short book called Five Worldviews: The Way We See the World. In this blog series, I will share with you excerpts from the book that I think are relevant to understanding and helping to transcend the deep gulfs that divide people today.

02 coverWorldviews have always fascinated me. Even though I hadn’t yet conceptualized the idea of worldviews, instances in my life when there was a clear clash between worldviews alerted me to the different ways in which people react to different events. My father, a World War II veteran, and I, a rebellious college student, experienced heated clashes over opposing views of the Vietnam War in the 1960s. While residing in Mississippi in the 1970s a friendly neighbor came to my house to introduce and promptly asked what Baptist Church I went to. She assumed I was a Baptist, since the church influenced her worldview. When I visited the Native American pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico in the 1980s, I was surprised to hear one of the visitor’s criticize the pueblo’s system of collective land-ownership. He grumbled that more money could be made by dividing the land into individual plots and selling them off to the highest bidder. During the 1990s when globalization was heralded as the savior of the Western world, I found most people in the business community thought it was an inevitable process and could not be stopped, even though I and others had some misgivings about it. 03 Iranian Women When I visited Iran in the 2000s, I was disturbed that the “culture police” could arrest me or any other woman for not dressing in the traditional way and looking too modern. All of these events and many others gave me glimpses into different worldviews that people hold. 

I first started to think about developing the concept of worldviews during my writing, teaching and research of my world history college course and the subsequent publication of my book, Waves of Global Change: A Holistic World History. In my teaching and book, I organized world history according to five waves of human development: communal, agricultural, urban, modern, and global. This was far different from the traditional chronological format that organized world history according to the march of time rather than the less-sequential way of human development. But I also found that within each wave there was uneven development, and not everyone in each of the waves marched along to the same beat. I found this especially true with the Global Wave, which starts around the turn of the new millennium. 04 Waves of Global Change, 2nd ed. cover

I found that during the Global Wave, there were many contentious and conflicting ways of seeing the world. Iranian fundamentalists established a theocracy in Iran after a revolution in 1979, while fundamentalists such as Pat Robertson were drawing many followers in the U.S. into the fold, mostly through television programming. The nationalistic fervor characteristic of the Modern Wave, which was supposed to decline with the upswing in globalization, was continuing and intensifying in the U.S. and other countries, even as the world was becoming more interconnected and global in scope. The traditions of the Communal and Agricultural Waves were being reasserted during this time, as many indigenous people resisted the pressure to modernize or let resources on their lands be exploited for extraction by multi-national corporations. 5worldviews The push for globalization, both economic and cultural, by the U.S. and other countries was a growing phenomenon that was supported politically, economically, and by the media. It appeared as an “inevitable” process, and we better jump on its bullet train of untold progress and riches or get left behind. Yet, there were those who resisted fundamentalism, modernism, and globalization and took action to create a different way of life. Although globalization supporters were garnering the most attention and putting forth an optimistic vision of the future, many other people were voicing different visions. But every individual has different ways of “seeing” events, facts, data, situations, people, movements, information, evidence, spectacles, and ways of living, which make the world appear as a very unpredictable and confusing place. Therefore, I decided that the Global Wave was not a homogeneous view of the world, but that many differing views within it needed to be heard and recognized.

As a result of my research, observations, and experiences, I decided to organize the Global Wave into five worldviews—indigenous, modern, fundamentalist, globalized, and transformative. I wanted my students and others to remember them, and the five worldviews coincided nicely with the five waves in my world history. I would use the term worldview since it most closely described the phenomena that I was identifying. 06 Reading Glasses I was attempting to show that each individual’s reality is filtered through different lenses, and learning about these different lenses can help us improve communication and relations with people who are similar to and different from us.

Find out more about the five worldviews in the next three blogs on June 27, July 5, and July 11.  If you find this information interesting follow and like us on Facebook.

I hope you enjoy reading about worldviews as much as I have had writing about, teaching, and researching the topic. If you are interested in getting more information about Gather (Global Awareness Adult Conversation and Study Program) or starting a conversation group this fall, please email us at info@global-awareness.org. Our purpose is to connect with others, to learn deeply, to unfold our hearts in empathy, to see with new eyes, and to activate our hands in engagement. Good luck to all of you!

Kind regards,

Denise R. Ames

questions-to-consider

  1. Can you think of other worldviews?
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A Populist Worldview, Part II

With bubbling tensions simmering in a cauldron, along comes the 2016 presidential election. Just a year ago, no one would have imagined that the forces of globalization would be challenged from both the left and right. The Populist Worldview was taking shape.

On the left, and arguable also part of the Populist Worldview, was the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. Sanders attacked Hillary Clinton where it hurt: on her globalization policies—trade and outsourcing—that have contributed to greater income inequality and pain for the working and middle classes. To many people she seemed too adjoined to corporate America, which was blamed for all ailments of American society. The two candidates seemed to agree on other policies such as immigration, identity politics, catering to the youth vote, and social issues. Sanders drilled down hard on the inequality issue and it especially resonated with the college-educated youth, who saw shrinking opportunities ahead of them while tethered by student debt. 7-bernie-sanders-at-rutgers-university

On the right, along comes Trump. He was different, both ideologically and emotionally, than the other Republican candidates. He promised to smash through the ideological divide and do what was best for the American people. He promised to “Make America Great” again. Enough people believed him, and despite his crass outbursts, he is now the U.S. President.

So, what characteristics define the Populist Worldview? I believe there will emerge two factions to this worldview: the left and the right, each trying to seize the issues that will define this worldview. The Democratic and Republican parties of old will cease to exist as in the past several decades and will be shaped anew. I will describe several issues that I believe will define this new worldview and describe how the right has grabbed the momentum in crafting its agenda. Actually, Trump seems to have borrowed aspects of other worldviews, which I will describe below, and also invented some new characteristics.

8-trump-familyTrump has borrowed the tribal notion (see indigenous worldview) of loyalty to family and to a very few close advisers such as Steve Bannon. He is fiercely loyal to the family business, and doesn’t entrust its operations to anyone outside the inner circle of his family. He regards his family members, especially his daughter Ivanka and her husband, as heirs to his fortune and political empire.

During the modern worldview, there was a fierce division between two political approaches in the 20th century: authoritarian rule and liberal democracy. Of course this confrontation came to a head during World War II when the authoritarian governments of Germany and Italy (fascism) fought the liberal democracies of the U.S. Britain, parts of France, who allied for convenience sake with the authoritarian communist regime of the Soviet Union. 9-mussolini-and-hitlerTrump’s administration has not, in my opinion, crossed the line to fascism but many of his policies and actions are uncomfortably close to that ideology. Fascism is a complete rejection of liberal democracy. Trump seems intent on dismantling the levers of liberalism and the checks and balances on his power. He derides the press at every instance; a sure way to try to discredit those who check his power. His fascist tendencies should be carefully monitored.

Trump railed against free trade agreements hurting the American worker during his campaign. He has nixed the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement with Asian counterparts. On occasion he chastises American corporations planning to send jobs to Mexico or overseas. However, it will take a lot more than these token efforts to fulfill the promise he made to American workers that their jobs would be returned to American soil.

Even though he is against some segments of the neoliberal policies of the last several decades, such as trade and outsourcing jobs, he seems to be supportive of others, such as establishing oligarchical rule by appointing billionaires to his cabinet. He is intent on lowering taxes for the wealthy, removing “burdensome” regulations, privatizing public assets such as education, and many others.

10-betsy-devos-secretary-of-educationGlobalizers, Republicans and Democrats, have been very supportive of immigration the last several decades. Immigration has added many pluses to American society by making it more diverse and in my opinion more interesting. But the influx of immigrants has also supported the globalization agenda by providing cheap labor for its enterprises and attracting the brightest workers from around the world to the tech industry. Trump has promised to stop illegal immigration and has conducted a few raids to “round-up” criminal illegal immigrants. However, his ill-conceived orders have created more chaos and fostered more ill-will than necessary. Although the immigration issue has been passed on down the line by Democrats and Republicans for too long, Trump’s policies are problematic.

So what are the characteristics of a Populist Worldview? I would argue that it is essentially undemocratic, a characteristic that doesn’t seem to be that problematic among Populists. It wants to curtail if not eliminate immigration and “round-up” immigrants who are here illegally, especially if they have a criminal record. This means approximately 11 million illegal immigrants, probably a number too large for deportation efforts.

11-nafta-logoPopulists want an end to free trade agreements, such as NAFTA, and a return to bi-lateral trade negotiations. They are in favor of levying a tariff on goods imported into the U.S. from American firms manufacturing in countries who have taken advantage of low-wage foreign labor. Many voters hailed Trump’s business experience as a reason for voting for him. They want an end to regulations and want the economy to grow, fast.

Some of the policies advocated by the Populist agenda may seem reasonable and within the Constitution. However, the implementation of the agenda by Trump is what is problematic. His constant and blatant lies, unstable rantings, gloomy future scenario, and unwarranted attacks on the press are unacceptable to the majority of Americans and a threat to democracy. He has anemic policies and no idea how to channel these policies into actual laws. This is the real problem with the Trump presidency. The executive branch of the government is supposed to execute the laws, under Trump this is absent.

12-border-wall-with-mexicoThe wall provides an apt metaphor for the Populist Worldview. Trump and his supporters want to wall themselves off from the rest of the world by embracing a nationalistic, isolationist foreign policy agenda. They want to wall themselves off from outsiders, the out-group, while protecting the loyal in-group. They want to wall themselves off from democratic institutions such as a free press, constitutional guidelines, and etiquette, manners, and what has been considered “decent” behavior by mainstream society. Practically every day a new wall is being “built,” dividing our nation from the traditions, customs, and laws of the past; tearing at an already tattered social fabric holding the nation together by just a few threads.

The good news is that the U.S. is a well-established liberal democracy with long-standing institutions run by committed people. We have withstood deep divisions through history—slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Depression, World War II, the 1968 rebellions—that could have easily torn apart a country with less sound institutions. It is up to these institutions—judicial branch, press, civic institutions, local/state governments, and empowered ordinary citizens, and others—to help us weather the storm of the Populist Worldview that seems bent on disrupting more than building, excluding rather than including, and hating more than kindness. 13

Will this Populist Worldview become the dominant worldview, during this time that I call the Global Wave? Will enough people embrace this worldview creating a tipping point in which this worldview begins to holistic effect all the technological, social, political, economic, and religious patterns in our society? We can hope that once the Populist Worldview becomes more exposed and the policies become more defined that enough people will say “this is not what we had in mind; I want no part of it.” Working with others to resist this worldview seems very important at this time in our history. We all have a stake in the outcome.

questions-to-consider

  1. Why do you think there are such deep divisions in American society today?
  2. Why don’t politicians have an answer or solution to these deep divisions?

 

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A Populist Worldview, Part I

A new worldview is emerging! Worldviews have been on my mind lately. I am just finishing up a short book entitled Five Worldviews: The Way We See the World. In this book I describe five worldviews that I have been writing about and formulating for some time now—indigenous, modern, fundamentalist, globalized, and transformative. But a new one is taking shape right under our noses.

A worldview is a way of understanding or a lens through which one explains events, phenomena, and actions that happen in our everyday lives. It refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual interprets the world and interacts with it. The following is a brief description of each worldview:5worldviews
1. An Indigenous Worldview is where people share a similar ethnic identity and usually inhabit a geographic region with which they have had an early historical connection.
2. A modern worldview traces its history to the expansion of Western European power and influence around the world. It upholds scientific reasoning, praises individualism, commodifies nature, promotes liberal political traditions, separates church and state, encourages industrial capitalism, and places faith in technology.
3. A Fundamentalist Worldview is a strict belief in a set of principles that are often religious. Many supporters defend what they see as traditional religious beliefs of the past, which they claim give them comfort and security in a rapidly changing and complex world.
4. In a Globalized Worldview “time has speeded up” and the pace of economic growth and development has spread to the farthest reaches of the earth. It affects all aspects of society and individuals’ daily lives.
5. Supporters of a Transformative Worldview say a different worldview or a different story is needed to make sure our human species and life as we know it on earth continue. They support curbing economic inequality, creating greater well-being, and welcome diversity.

I have confidently thought that these five worldviews encapsulated prevailing thought in the 21st century, in what I call the Global Wave. But with the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the U.S. in 2016, I have had to rethink my ideas on the five worldviews. Donald Trump doesn’t fit into any of the five worldviews very comfortably. Perhaps he needs his own worldview category! 2-president-donald-trump-us

I am tentatively calling this emerging worldview a Populist Worldview. From all indicators, it is gaining steam in the U.S. with the election of Trump, in the United Kingdom with the pro-Brexit vote, the popularity in France of the National Front’s Marine Le Pen, and other European countries. In this blog I will mainly concentrate on the Trump agenda, but note that his agenda is not being carried out in isolation but follows similar patterns that are emerging throughout the world.

marinelp First of all, I would like to give some context to this emerging Populist Worldview. Since the 1980s, the U.S. has led a globalization agenda guided by neoliberal principles. Economic globalization, in particular, has quickly spread around the world. This globalization/neoliberal process has been characterized by four major shifts in the U.S.: 1) national corporations shifting their operations to low-wage countries to increase profit margins, 2) the government loosening immigration quotas or ignoring illegal immigration in order to have a supply of cheap labor at home and a bulwark against unions, 3) rapid technological changes creating greater efficiencies in the workplace that have eliminated many jobs and disrupted everyday life, and 4) the changing nature of the nation-state and patriotism caused by the influx of immigrants and an allegiance by the global elite/educated class to a global rather than local/national agenda.

The results from these four major shifts have been 1) historic levels of income inequality and concentration of wealth at the very top 2) technological advancements that have been celebrated by Silicon Valley but disrupted jobs and the social fabric 3) a shrinking middle/working class (non-college educated) who have experienced stagnant wages and fewer opportunities 4) a disruption of shared, core values revolving around a shared love of country and a fraying of the social fabric (social institutions) that binds our country together.4

These four global forces have hit all of us in many ways but arguably the group hit the hardest in the U.S. is the white working class who hold less than a college education. Their wages have stagnated for decades and opportunities for well-paying jobs with non-technical skills have also declined. These four forces have occurred in many core countries (Western, industrialized countries) in Europe with similar results. As the middle class grows in Asian countries and other emerging economies, the middle class in core countries is shrinking.

The frustration of this group at the political class for ignoring their plight has been building for years.

5-democratic-party-logo The Democratic Party, long a champion of the working class, has turned to the globalizers and technology industry as a core constituent, and hasn’t found a way to blend the working class agenda into their platform of contending constituents: the young, immigrants, people of color, LGBT, urban, and college-educated. The left with their embrace of immigration, even illegal immigration, has angered this working class group who experience competition from these low-wage workers for a shrinking pool of good manufacturing and well-paying but low skill jobs. None of these disparate groups resonate with the needs of the working class (mostly white).

6-republican-party-logo The Republican Party, long the party of the globalizers, has also melded a diverse constituency into a tension-filled mass. Their core group, evangelicals, holds the party together despite the fact that Republicans haven’t implemented much of their agenda. The Reagan Democrats, many of the white working-class who switched to Republicans with the Reagan election, can switch back and forth between the two parties depending on the candidate and agenda.

For many years now, I have thought that the political parties in the U.S. have drawn a line with a permanent marker between their ideologies. If any particular member of the Democrats, for example, strayed from the “established” stances on same sex marriage, abortion, health care, immigration, trade, taxes, foreign policy, or a host of other issues, then their constituents would spring into action to challenge their views. Same with the Republicans. Even though both parties did share views on a globalized economy and appeasing the corporate world, grid-lock still resulted.

With all these bubbling tensions simmering in a cauldron, along comes the 2016 presidential election. Just a year ago, no one would have imagined that the forces of globalization would be challenged from both the left and right. The Populist Worldview was taking shape.

Part II of this blog will post on Tuesday, February 28.

questions-to-consider

  1. 1. What do you think are the major shifts in American and world society that are creating such tension and division among Americans?

 

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Reviving Local Traditions in Arles, France

I have a new gig! I am an occasional cruise ship lecturer. My first cruise destination was sailing along the Mediterranean coast. The cruise ship was luxurious, by all definitions of luxury. But I am not writing these blogs to tell you what I had for dinner. I want to share with you observations that I gather from this experience that may add insights into how you see the world and how people outside of your own locality live their lives. And if you are an educator or student, I hope you will share these insights with your students or others.

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Areal view of Arles, France

It was a warm, sunny day with a slight chill of autumn in the air as I toured the delightful city of Arles, located in southern France with a population of about 50,000. It seemed like a prosperous small city with bustling sidewalks and lively small businesses surrounding the old plaza. Tourism obviously contributed to the vibrancy of the city.

 

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Roman coliseum. Photo by: Dinise Ames

The city has a long history and is the site of monuments and ruins from ancient Rome, which were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981. The well-preserved Roman coliseum built during the first century of the Roman Empire is, remarkably, still used for concerts and other festivities! It seated about 40,000 during ancient times, but a mere 16,000 today. The Greeks left their imprint on the city as well with the ruins of a theater still visible. As a world history educator, it was delightful strolling among the antiquities and imagining how others might have lived in this very place that I was visiting today.

 

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Cafe Terrace at Night by Van Gogh

The Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles from 1888 to 1889 and produced over 300 paintings and drawings during his time there. Although he is revered today, during his stay in the city he was regarded as an aggressive oddball, and tried the patience of the town’s residents. He only sold one painting while in residency, hardly indicative of the mark he would make on the art world after his death.

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Cafe Frequented by Van Gogh. Photo by: Denise Ames

He was drawn to the area around Arles because of the light, and on that warm, sunny fall day I finally realized what he and other painters meant by the magical light of Arles. It was diffused light and cast a magically, surreal impression on all subjects. It had to be seen, rather than just described.

This leads me to an insight that I would like to share with you. After several inquiries and observations, I found that the people of Arles are purposely and intentionally creating a different way of living, working, and carrying out their everyday lives. Among many of the residents, there seems to be a rejection of the globalized worldview that has spread throughout the U.S., Europe, and rest of the world, in which everything is replicated and mass-produced with maximum profits the ultimate goal. There is a real push to return to local traditions and pride in the heritage of the region. To dispense with the mass-produced entertainment options of a globalized world, and return to simple walks along the boardwalk next to the coast, or encouraging children to ride on a small merry-go-round playing old tunes or sliding down a water slide next to the sea.

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Local  Butcher Shop. Photo by: Denise Ames

The museum in Arles was allocated money for renovations by a wealthy resident. He stipulated that the curators highlight the local traditions, and insisted that the museum staff and guides wear the local and traditional dress of the area. Traditional music blared from the speakers as construction was getting underway. Even the local dialects of southern France were being preserved by the local museum and other venues. Boutique shops showcased local designers and their unique interpretation of traditional southern French dress for the modern shopper. It was exquisite!

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Local Traditions. Photo by : Denise Ames

After witnessing the ostentatious lifestyle of the super-rich on the shores of Monte Carlo, it was a relief to see the small town atmosphere and pride in local traditions and customs coming alive in this lovely city. Since I am a big supporter of returning to local traditions and creating identities associated with local place, I was thrilled by what I was experiencing.

Could it be that the globalized worldview that has infiltrated every corner of the world with its mass-produced goods and services is experiencing a push-back to its dominance in some corners of the world? If we as global citizens are to counter the dehumanizing conformity of globalization and the concentration of wealth among a tiny elite, the efforts in Arles are inspiring and worth emulating.

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Mode of Transportation. Photo by: Denise Ames

I am sure Arles, France is not alone in this experiment of making the local come alive once again, but it was wonderful to observe a localizing process in this lovely region of southern France. Perhaps, it has to do with the misty, magical quality of light in Arles that allows people to clearly see what is really important in their lives and to follow that light in shaping a more livable future.

questions-to-consider

Questions to Consider:

  1. What are the benefits of a local economy?
    2.  What are the drawbacks of a local economy?
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