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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