Lenses Through Which to See the World

To lay some groundwork for my blog, I want to explain some of my beliefs. To start, I want to discuss worldviews.

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Everyone has a worldview. A worldview simply put is “the way someone thinks about the world,”i though some may prefer a more philosophical definition: “a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint — also called Weltanschauung.ii Dictionary.com defines the German word Weltanschauung as “a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity’s relation to it.”

One can also consider a worldview as the lens through which one sees the world. For instance, one may say that John sees the world through a rosy pair of glasses, meaning that he has a positive outlook on the world. Furthermore, two individuals can witness the same event or circumstances yet see them differently, depending on their worldview. Two men can look out a window; one sees only the mud, but the other sees stars.

Formally defined worldviews have been categorized by philosophers, such as Platonism, Kantianism or Freudism. The disciplines of art and literature discuss Romanticism, Neoclassicism, and Modernism. The world of religion offers Protestantism, Judaism, and Hinduism. Politicians follow statism, conservationism, or libertarianism. Economists speak of capitalism, socialism, and communism.

Various “isms” fill our world and compete for followers, and few people adhere to one purely and systematically. As we interact with others and consume several sources of media during our lifetime, we consciously or subconsciously take on multiple degrees and aspects of several belief systems. We absorb ideas from our families, education, and culture. Some choose to drift along, allowing the ideas and values they come into contact with to mold their thinking. Others consciously strive to control what shapes them and purposely reject influences that disagree with the worldviews they have already chosen to be faithful to.

Why consider one’s worldview? Why consider the worldviews of others? Because it can bring understanding between people. I have read and heard in the media people exclaim, “I don’t understand why they think that way!” or “They are stupid to think that way.”

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In recent years, the American people have grown more and more polarized in their view of how our government should be run, in what direction our country should head, and how we should tackle the various social problems.

This conflict paired with frequent verbal, and sometimes physical, confrontations stems from differing worldviews. To improve communication and find solutions to some of our nation’s challenges, we need to understand the worldviews that we each of us abide by and politely listen to those with whom we may disagree. As a republican society governed by constitutional law and not by the whims of a dictator, not only do we need to recognize that the people of our nation embrace multiple worldviews, but also that we are all equal before the law and as such have an equal right to have our individual views heard without being attacked, verbally or otherwise. Even better, we should all listen to others respectfully.

Let us not behave like immature children on the playground, who call each other names, hit one another in anger, and bully those different than themselves. Let us come together as reasonable adults, listening to one another and working together for the common good of the nation within the parameters of our Constitution’s original intent: E Pluribus Unum.


i Merriam-Webster’s English Language Learners definition

ii Merriam-Webster.com

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