Saturday, 1 June 2013

Weltanschauung / World View / Paradigm

I'm sure I wrote something about this a while back but just can't find it, never mind, if you have heard me rabbit on before, this should at least be in more in depth!

I often use the word "paradigm" when describing how we perceive and act in life. Its probably not the best word to use but its the only one I can find that's easy to say but encompasses some of the depth of the subject.

Weltanschauung and World View are probably closer to what I'm trying to describe. World View is a bit generic though and open to a lot of interpretation. Weltanschauung is better but, well... Anyway, Paradigm is usually used to describe scientific information rather than social/philosophical states, but at least people have some idea, and if you use the phrase "paradigm shift" it does sort of conjure up the type of image I'm looking for.

If you didn't understand a word I just said, don't worry, just ignore all that, and start from here!

We pop out of the womb and the first thing we see/hear/feel has a determining impact on us. The loving arms of a mother, the quiet fear and despising of an unwanted intrusion? An absent Father? We are taken into a home - or not. The words spoken in that place, the emotions that define relationships around us, the brothers and sisters (or lack of), the friends and relatives that share our lives begin to create our unique reality. We go to school and discover a bigger world, but one that is shaped by teachers, opinions, text books written by those with greater opinions based on research by those we trust have pure and unbiased motives. We make friends based on assumptions about who is safe or scary, who fits in the world we have already built around us. This is a never ending process of family and peer shaping, combined with media, our community, our political environment, or socio/economic status, our perceived intelligence. Day by day this grows into layer upon layer of our personal paradigm.

It's as inevitable as the sunrise - we cannot escape the building of paradigms.

Every word that comes out of my mouth is shaped by the complex layers of input and interaction that have brought me this far. Every belief I have is shaped by this never ending complexity of influence and assumptions. I am a unique representation of all that has been part of my life to this very second.

The implications of this are HUGE. To realise the depth of this is to realise that every thing we do, see, hear, speak is completely governed and coloured by this paradigm. We don't have a choice - it just IS.

When we apply this to our perceptions of God we start getting into interesting territory. The way I understand God is based on my upbringing by a conservative middle class english family who migrated to Australia in the 50s, my awareness of being gay from a young age, of being socially awkward from ADD and having a passionate musical talent, my encounter with God at 15 and expressing that in the anglican church, my frustrations, suicidal thoughts, my indoctrination into charismatic and pentecostal church - and on it goes, layer after layer of influence until the thoughts that I think are mine are really nothing more than a paradigm created by my life experiences.

Not one single person ever created is exempt from this! We are all a set of very, very complex paradigms.

If I have a "paradigm shift", I have a dramatic change of perspective that involves the dismantling of part of my life paradigm - changing the way I perceive something. Paradigm shifts are epitomized by expression such as "I didn't know what I didn't know". They are unexpected shifts into another reality.

So my point is??

Our paradigms are not necessarily "right or wrong", "good or bad", they just ARE. But as intelligent beings, who have been given astounding intelligence and hunger for truth, we do ourselves the greatest favour imaginable by being AWARE of our paradigms. To simply acknowledge that my paradigm exists is a huge step to understanding who we are and how we relate to God and each other.

When I interact with you, if I don't recognise that your paradigms are completely different to mine, we will never connect on any level. I recognise that despite my best efforts, you may never understand what I'm trying to say - because our paradigms are too diverse to meet at any mutually understandable point. That's OK - frustrating, but OK. The good news is that we are all in the same boat.

My hearts desire, that is behind all I "preach" is that we have the maturity to recognise our paradigms - these things that make us who we are and colour every single thought we have. I hope that by realising this, we will not hold so tightly to what we perceive as truth, when in fact it is just part of our paradigm.

Even what I'm saying now is from my own paradigm. I just hope that I'm aware enough of what has shaped me this far, to be able to communicate something that is universal.

I believe that when we can grasp this and all its implications, we will start to see who God really is and how we relate to him. Its all about heart, our heart and His heart, our union with Love incarnate, that cuts through every paradigm and speaks directly to the core of our being.