(This is a continuation of my “TechNO-Fix… Part 1” post.)
Chapter 12: The Need for a Different Worldview starts by describing the power that paradigms and worldviews have over us. They are mental models of how the world works, and as such they dictate how we see, experience, and interact with the world around us.
At the very core of a particular worldvew one always finds a set of dominant values and norms that give people meaning and guide their actions and behavior.
Typically conflicting paradigms are resolved through the parties involved providing more convincing facts, displays and applications of physical power (wars), and the application of economic power (mass media). However, a true paradigm shift will only happen when those who oppose the new view pass on; it is notoriously difficult to change the way people see the world.
It is probably much more effective to instill in the younger generation the new paradigm as part of their standard education than to waste time debating it with the older generation, who may never be able to change their mental maps.
The key thing to remember, is that after a worldview has changed, there is no way to go back to the previous version. As I am not who I was a month ago (or even yesterday) we cannot return to who we were; we can only keep going.
Our current worldview is one based primarily on the illusion of separateness, which needs to change to one of interconnectedness and shared destiny.
As the world’s great spiritual traditions have warned repeatedly, anything that violates this unity will surely result in negative consequences.
(Note: This goes beyond the “Do unto others” rule that many of us … at least heard about. It includes the whole of earth, all the plants and animals and natural cycles as one living, breathing organism.)
This is tied in with the need for a different view of the economy. The current model of economic growth has really only been around for the last 200 years, and has only been a guiding principle for the past 50 years or so. Before that, people lived in essentially a steady-state.
Growth is an aberration, not the norm.
Herman Daly’s book Beyond Growth is said to be a fascinating read on ways to achieve a steady-state economy. However, this would involve such an extreme redistribution of wealth (the likes of which Robin Hood himself could scarcely imagine) that it won’t happen without equally extreme social & political upheaval.
Something else we could change our views on is medicine; the prevention of disease is more cost-effective than treatment.
Health would be seen as a state of balance, in which the individual is in harmony within as well as with the surrounding social and natural environment.
This would require shifting medical research toward understanding the social and environmental factors in disease causation, and could lead to reduced healthcare costs all around and leading longer, fuller lives.
However, a paradigm shift toward interconnectedness can only happen when people raise their consciousness. Dr. David Korten defined five levels of consciousness:
- Magical (age 2-6) = unable to recognize consequences or take responsibility
- Imperial (age 6-12) = justice is primitive and personally enforced; conforming to expectations of authority figures generally leads to rewards
- Socialized (age 12 & up) = cultural norms are internalized; capable of empathy, but susceptible to manipulation; prone to demand rights for members of own group that they’re willing to deny others; based on artificial “in-group/out-group” duality. (**most people stop here**)
- Cultural = equal justice for all people; universal respect for human rights. Those who progress to this level generally face rejection by their previous group.
- Spiritual = morality is based on justice, love, and compassion; recognizes the need for nonviolent civil disobedience.
(Note: Ages listed are approximate.)
There are ways to raise one’s level of consciousness. The authors suggest courses in anthropology, comparative religions, philosophy, ethics, psychology, biological evolution, quantum physics, and astronomy (to name a few!) to broaden one’s knowledge of the world. Being exposed to the views and practices of other cultures, such as through exchange programs & the Peace Corps, are also encouraged. Lastly, crises may force people to reevaluate where they stand in relation to the rest of the world.
A traditional and effective way to increase one’s awareness of the interconnectedness of life is to practice spiritual disciplines and acts of charity. Unfortunately, our modern, industrialized, consumer culture only strengthens selfishness.
This chapter spoke to me in the voice of Huu, from Avatar: the Last Airbender.
|“See, this whole swamp is actually one tree spread out over miles. Branches spread and sink and take root and then spread some more. One big, living organism. Just like the entire world.“|
This also ties in with my feeling drawn to meditative paths like Zen in recent weeks. Granted, the likelihood of me being able to sit still for long periods of time is pretty small, but I still feel the need to somehow quiet my overactive mind and find the eye of the storm.
Health as harmony is important to me, in part because I really believe that holistic medicine can actually help. (Example A: I see a chiropractor regularly.) While I wouldn’t turn down a doctor’s approach should something bad happen, I also know that what I eat and what kind of environment I’m in can impact my health. (Tying in with how my health has declined over the past year, maybe?)
I’m hesitant to try to pin down what my level of consciousness is, as to avoid hubris, but I know that I still have room for improvement. But I have (somehow, over time) become aware of just how wrong things are with the way our society (especially the US) functions. It was a subtle change, and I’m not sure how I missed it, but I am sure now that I no longer hold the same worldviews as my parents. It’s very odd, looking at your parents and wondering how they missed the shift. It’s left me feeling confused, and sad, because I know I can’t change their views on how the world works, and I’m sure that this will put me in conflict with them in the future.