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Worldview and perception

"Echo" by Jaume Plensa in Madison Square Park NYC
"Echo" by Jaume Plensa in Madison Square Park NYC
Scott Robertson

As promised, this is the first follow-up to the new article series titled: "All one or all separate?" This article covers the concept of worldview and how it may affect our lives.

Our worldview, simply put, is how we view our world. It governs which decisions we make and how we perceive the events in our lives. How we view the world affects our desires of material abundance and social prestige versus establishing limits of bare essentials and social simplicity.

Take a look at your own worldview for a moment. Ask yourself: "Do my decisions affect others?" "Do I care if I harm another human being with my words or actions?" "Do I pay attention to the economy or the environment?" "Do I want a fancy new car, do I want to travel, or do I want to live simply and save for my essential livelihood?" "Do I want to be happier, stronger, or smarter?" "Do I want my neighbor to be happier, stronger, or smarter?" "Am I content with how the world exists today or do I want it to change?"

Are we all one or all separate? is a much deeper question discussing very distinct worldviews in opposition to one another and can profoundly dictate significantly different perspectives on life.

Here is an example. My neighbor greets me every time he sees me, yet I still do not know his name. Depending on how I view the world I can perceive this situation in at least two ways:

1. "He greets me with a kind smile and jokes about random nuances that tickle him. He will willingly share gasoline for my lawnmower when I run out. We both live in the same town, experiencing the same economy with life's ups-and-downs. We are both affected by the range of human experience and emotion. It seems we both enjoy sharing words and smiles as I feel connected to him, realizing he is very much similar to me: a human being."

or 2. "He usually greets me with an unusual story about his mother's tomatoes, or something similarly random. He has a much thicker accent than me, drives a Harley Davidson, and speaks rudely of his x-wife, suggesting I treat my girlfriend the same. I feel nothing like this man and wonder why so much small talk. Time spent in the gym might serve him a little better to get rid of that gut."

Again, our worldview not only dictates our perception, but also our decisions. I may feel connected to my neighber from these events, invite him and his mother for dinner one evening, or offer to help him fix his motorcycle. From the other point of view, I may feel distaste for this man, silently judge him, and even begin to ignore him or tell him to go to the gym instead of talking to me.

Now which perspective sounds healthier? I hope you said #1.

If you find yourself looking at another individual or group of people from the perspective of #2, ask yourself if you can shift to a more positive point of view. The man or woman who cut you off today, President Obama, or even Paul Kingsnorth are potential examples of how you can exercise this shift. The more separate the individual seems from you, the more difficult it is to view them as alike. Which would you rather see, similarities or differences?

All one, or all separate?


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