The Power of a Worldview

“I’d like to experiment with ways of helping people make their worldviews conscious to themselves. You got any ideas?” This from my friend and colleague, Tom Wojick, at The Renewal Group.
“Great!” was my response. “I think that is such a vital piece of the work….” And we began a provocative conversation about why this is important, and about some possible tools and techniques we might use with corporate clients.
This territory of our ‘worldviews’ is part of the bio-psycho-social self I reference in the Wild Resiliency model as The Power of Arrival — a Self in the World. In developing the model, I too was looking for ways to help us become aware of our own personal worldviews, of the potent power they carry… that we might better walk in the worldview of our neighbor… that we might realize the creative and reciprocal mirroring we bring to the selection of our worldviews….
My father, for example, in the selection of his Fundamentalist “hellfire and brimstone” God, could not see the cascading implications his religion would have on his life. That he would be required to have enemies, for example, as a result of perceiving himself to live in a world of literal spiritual warfare between Good and Evil, was surely not part of his decision matrix.
Surely also he did not consider the rippling implications, as he dedicated his life to being an evangelist for this God, of what it is to be treated as an object, to be saved if deemed worthy or cast aside into eternal damnation if judged unworthy. How could he have seen his choice of a God would lead him to treating the world and his family with the same kind of regard his God treated him with? That we and the universe were denied the mystery of our being, that each were solidified and reduced to the objects… how could he have seen what he did not know?
How could my father have perceived the potency of his worldview to even determine what was allowable for him to think… or not to think? His worldview, after all, forbade the very act of questioning as a sinful path leading to hell. Once the head is abandoned, in favor of externalized authority, once the heart’s allegiance is given to the same, once the body’s desires are named as evil, once the world is divided into us and them… “You’re either for us or against us,” well…
The nightly news informs us of the cascading consequences of such a worldview: the war in Iraq, global climate destabilization and change, exacerbated water and resource shortages, terrorism in the name of beauty… poisons that arise out of worldviews of separation from nature, of separation from the numinous….

The brain is a stubborn organ. Once its primary set of beliefs has been established, the brain finds it difficult to integrate opposing ideas and beliefs. This has profound consequences for individuals and society and helps to explain why some people cannot abandon destructive beliefs, be they religious, political, or psychological. — Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman, Born to Believe: God, Science, and the Origins of Ordinary and Extraordinary Beliefs

This challenge of becoming aware of our worldviews… is also the challenge of becoming aware of the resilient shadows they cast. It is also the challenge of learning to exploring the territories that open and close to our perceptions as we dress ourselves in our worldviews, in their sensory permissions. Oh, this is such fertile soil for helping us nurture into being the future we would choose; in our families, our personal lives, our businesses, and in our communities. And yes, in the world too.
It seems fitting here to demonstrate The Power of Arrival, the power of one’s worldview, with these excerpted quotes from the diaries of someone we love. (Author unknown.)
Excerpts from a Dog’s Diary…Jane
8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm – Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm – Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm – Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!
Excerpts from a Cat’s Daily Diary …
Day 983 of my captivity.
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dineSephe lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I, nevertheless, must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.
Today, I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a ‘good little hunter’ I am. Bastards.
There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises, and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of ‘allergies’. I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.
Today, I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow — but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released – and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.
The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now…


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    04/01/2008 at 11:45 am

    […] power that our worldviews carry to shape our lives is beautifully captured by Ben Okri, the Nigerian poet and author, in the above […]

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    […] Rocks are in truth processes as well; they will become soil again on their way to becoming rock again. Yet they have a kind of tangibility that we too often falsely ascribe to personality, which we also tend to perceive as our ’self’. And when we think of our self, our personality or our resilience as an object… we make rocks of them; we be-come how it is we think of our selves. […]

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