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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
Understanding 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 firstname.lastname@example.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!
Denise R. Ames
- What do you think are several core values connecting you with others that you may disagree with?