Below, in Part 4 of our seven-part blog series on the transformative worldview, we consider the social patterns of this worldview. In Part 1, we introduced the transformative worldview; in Part 2, we considered its cultural aspects; and last week we explored its political perspectives.
Some people adhering to a transformative worldview see the rights of indigenous people, women, non-elites, animals, and the environment as worthy of promoting. Some people earnestly work toward eradicating racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia around the world. Since around the 1990s, for example, LBGT movements, a term that was not in widespread use before 1990, have been achieving human rights for lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, and transsexual people around the world. The LGBT social movement advocates for the equalized acceptance of LGBT people in society. Although there is not an overarching central organization that represents all LGBT people and their interests, many organizations are active worldwide. Today these movements include political activism and cultural activity, such as lobbying, street marches, social groups, media, art, and research. The 1990s saw a rapid push of the transgender rights movement, and it continues today.
Some people who promote a transformative worldview believe that education is the key to ushering in alternative changes. Some wish to deinstitutionalize our educational establishments and make our schools diverse, engaging, and beneficial to all, not just to an elite group. They are critical of No Child Left Behind, which they believe overemphasizes testing and “punishes” schools that “fail” to meet arbitrary national standards. Popular among many educators (including this author) are holistic educational practices that encourage diversity, inquiry-based learning, activities that connect with our multiple intelligences, a global perspective, and a holistic world history!
The importance of communal values, rather than an overemphasis on individualism as the central cultural value, is important to many people connecting with the transformative worldview. Emerging social values can be gathered from contemporary culture, from diverse ancient traditions, and from our own imaginations. For example, we can learn to draw upon the wisdom of our elders and their historical insights. Intense individualism is a learned behavior historically created and promoted by Western society, especially the United States. Those who support a transformative worldview believe a shift to a worldview that emphasizes greater cooperative, supportive, and life-enhancing attributes is a viable and necessary alternative. Visionary Mary Clark notes, “We urgently need to reinstate feelings of relatedness and community into our social vision.”i
The negative and positive effects of rapid social changes in the 20th century and early 21st century are playing out today. Our society is fraying at the edges because of social fragmentation and alienation. The social structures that are in place in the U.S. today widen the income gap, perpetuate poverty, alienate individuals and families, foster rampant individualism, and encourage the growth of a consumer society at great cost to the environment and individual well-being. When these seemingly intractable problems are looked at from a holistic perspective, they can be addressed more effectively. We are constantly blaming groups or individuals for “causing” these problems: Politicians blame teachers for not educating students satisfactorily, teachers blame parents for not providing a good foundation for education, liberals blame television and social media for “dumbing down” students, and advertisers say to just be “cool,” and all is well. Yet the whole system is out of balance.
The values and beliefs of the modern and globalized worldview govern our social system. Some supporters of the transformative worldview say our society drives us to pursue individual rewards, pleasures, and recognition, while the family, community, and commons are devalued and rendered subservient to the individual. Children are trucked to day-care centers so that parents can earn money in the marketplace, taking them away from the home and their children. Even when there is enough leisure time for family or community enjoyment, it frequently revolves around the marketplace providing platforms for entertainment. The adage “it takes a village to raise a child” has been replaced by “it takes a day care to raise a child.”
The indigenous worldview provides valuable insights into societal readjustments. Historically, the band, group, family, village, clan, and tribe have provided mechanisms for human belonging. Humans have a universal, innate sense of wanting to belong to something bigger than just themselves. It is in our deep collective unconscious to live in connection with each other; it has only been recently that we have deviated from this norm.
Instead, there has been a shift from community to the individual. This has intensified since the end of World War II and further intensified since the 1980s, when the ideal of the individual reigned supreme. Now rampant individualism has reached a crisis point. Social disengagement and alienation are expressed in the upsurge in the use of anti-depressant drugs, the rash of teen suicides, and an untold number of broken families. For example, from 2001 to 2014 there was a 2.8-fold increase in the total number of prescription-drug-related deaths. We have become untethered from our innate human need—the need to belong.
For individual well-being, those supporting a transformative worldview argue that our social currents need to change to a more equitable, nourishing, and sustainable way of life. The good news is that many people recognize this is an urgent issue and are remaking social institutions to foster more community spirit. They are rethinking the self-serving individualism that permeates the values and attitudes of many parts of American and world society. For example, many religious institutions are once again encouraging their places of worship to provide a setting for social interaction and support for their members and others in the community. Changing parts of the system can trigger changes in the whole system. It is a huge challenge, but once awareness is reached, change can come about. Perhaps once again we will be able to claim that it takes a village to raise a child.
Questions to Consider
- What does the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” mean to you?
Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator and president of the nonprofit Center for Global Awareness. The Center for Global Awareness develops books and materials with a holistic, global focus for adult learners and educators. In 2018, the CGA will launch the Global Awareness Adult Conversation and Study Program, or Gather. In this unique program, adult learners form small study groups to launch conversations about pressing global issues, seeing different perspectives, transcending deep political and cultural divides, and engaging with others to create positive change. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.
i Mary E. Clark, Ariadne’s Thread: The Search for New Modes of Thinking (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989), 490-492.