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.
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). 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. 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. 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 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
- Examine several judgments that you frequently pass on others.
- How can you reframe these pronouncements so they are not judgments?