Today we conclude our blog series on the transformative worldview. For a review of the rest of this series, please visit the other articles through the following links: Part 1 (introduction), Part 2 (cultural patterns), Part 3 (political patterns), Part 4 (social patterns), Part 5 (economic patterns), and Part 6 (environmental patterns). Thank you for joining us as we explore this important way of seeing the world!
Events today pose a huge challenge for us: environmental degradation, a huge socioeconomic gap, unchecked individualism, a political system out of touch with reality, and worldviews unable to deal with future challenges. Our innate behaviors and historical experiences have not prepared us well for the urgency of the global issues that confront us; we do not have a firm track record that we can draw on. Our innate behaviors as a species have equipped us to deal with threats such as marauding lions or the needs of our immediate 25-member group, but now we must deal with the threat of planet-wide environmental devastation and the needs of our immediate 7+ billion–member group!
We often turn to our political or religious leaders as potential saviors. However, they are also overwhelmed with the issues, or they are caught in their own intransigent, outdated worldview. Our political leaders in the U.S. are adept (somewhat) at dealing with isolated problems in a legal, deliberative, cumbersome way, with built-in mechanisms to stymie impulsive actions. But they have failed to provide a vision of where we need to head and what we need to do. With their enslavement to corporations for their campaign donations, their intransigent bipartisanship, and their entrenched worldviews, many politicians are unable to provide the leadership the citizenry so desperately craves.
The 2016 election in the U.S. of President Donald Trump was a rejection of many liberal democratic principles that the country and Western nations were founded upon. Half of the people in the U.S. voted for an authoritarian-type leader who is dispensing with the checks and balances carefully put in place over the years. They put their faith in a government run by wealthy oligarchs. Trump supporters are blithely rejecting our liberal traditions, just to cut through the bureaucracy and get results that benefit them. These political actions, unprecedented in U.S. history, are sure to have profound consequences.
Some of our religious leaders have also failed us, although many are working hard to bring about change. Many religious people, for example, have scoffed at the idea of climate change. However, some evangelical leaders are now alarmed that we humans are contaminating God’s creation and are calling for action. Other religious people continue to disbelieve the hard scientific findings. They are embedded in the minutiae of their faith and fail to see the “big picture” issues that are causing such distress around the world.
A challenge today and in the future is how to accommodate diverse opinions without losing social and national cohesiveness. There is a need to reduce the rigid dogma of fundamentalism, without losing the sense of shared meaning and purpose that traditional religion offers. There is a need to embrace the technological wonders of the globalized worldview that connect people throughout the world, yet reject the rampant consumerism and social divides that economic globalization fosters. There is a need to counter the pessimism, obscurity, elitism, and uninspiring and fragmenting effects of postmodern thought, without losing the ability to probe below surface meanings. What worldview will emerge to replace the shattered worldviews that have failed to provide a framework enabling us to address vast global problems?
One drawback to the transformative worldview is that many enthusiasts feel self-righteous about their “cause” and are unwilling to listen to others. The sanctimonious behavior among some has estranged people who otherwise might be drawn to worthy causes. While shouting tolerance and the rejection of hate, many have shown intolerance to views other than their own, especially on college campuses. That hardly makes for an inclusive movement! A willingness to listen and consider other views and people will do much to further many of the positive qualities of the transformative worldview.
Those supporting a transformative worldview need not totally disregard the other worldviews in shaping a new one, yet they need to be selective and mindful in fitting the values of the other worldviews into a new framework. Even though the traditional, modern, and globalized worldviews are the dominant paradigms at this point in time, the transformative worldview is gaining momentum and continues to mount a vigorous challenge to mainstream ideas, while offering viable options for a sustainable and more equitable future. Which worldview or combination of worldviews will global citizens choose for our future? While some people are already taking action, others are going through a process of debate, consideration, and deliberation. We all have a voice and critical stake in the outcome.
For many people, the transition to a new way of thinking and acting is a difficult one to make. But many are inspired to make the world livable and safe for our children and grandchildren. Although we eagerly install fluorescent lightbulbs or turn off our computers at night, deep structural, systemic changes are difficult to accomplish on our own. Our worldviews are embedded in the way society is structured; it is hard to make the leap to another worldview. Malcolm Gladwell described a “tipping point,” when things quickly make a dramatic shift to something different. The signals indicating that we need to shift to a different worldview are becoming ever more readily apparent. The leap to a transformative worldview is ever more urgent.
It is essential to create a different worldview that can enable us to avert environmental collapse, deal with the myriad issues facing us today and in the near future, and forge a way of life that is happier and more fulfilling. Inspired by these goals, I have written my book Five Worldviews: How We See the World from a transformative worldview perspective, promoting it as a viable worldview today and in the future. After much research and reflection, I find that transformation is necessary to help us make the shift to a new way of thinking and acting that will move us into a new and more creative, tolerant, compassionate, and sustainable relationship with each other and our world.
One step in formulating and expanding a transformative worldview is one that you have just accomplished: reading about worldviews. My goal is not for us to forcibly convert people to a transformative worldview. Rather, through listening, kindness, and compassionate conversations, we can actively demonstrate to others that the transformative worldview is a life-enhancing future scenario in which all people have a crucial stake. It is my intent and hope that through engaging with others and seeing other perspectives, we can shift our consciousness to a transformative worldview. We can make that leap!
Questions to Consider
1. Do you see the transformative worldview as a viable alternative worldview?
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. The CGA recently launched Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection. In this unique program, adult learners form small study groups to launch conversations about pressing global issues. The simple acts of talking and listening allow us to see different perspectives, transcend deep political and cultural divides, and engage with others to create positive change. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.