World-view vs. the world

When the world collides with our world-view, there are two broad ways to respond.

The first is to treat our world-view as the sacred truth to which the world must confirm. Anybody who doesn’t or measure up or act accordingly is dim-witted, narrow-minded or downright evil. Our response is to write them off as lost causes and stick to circles of people who share the same world-view. This mode of response unites people in opposing sides of a camp. Each camp is devoted to their world-view with equal fervour. Like the Shakespearean families of Montague and the Capulet, they are identical, but hate each other.

The second is to put the world before the world-view. Our world-view is nothing but our imperfect interpretation of the world, and if something doesn’t add up, it’s our world-view that needs to change. We engage with people who have a different world-view and converse with them, not to agree with them but to understand where they come. Seen this way, camps such as Left and Right, Democrat and Republican, Conservative and Liberal, are meaningless because they all represent world-views that are bogged down with inertia.

The world is real and complex. Our world-view is like a globe – a simplification that helps us cope with these complexities. By holding on too tightly to our world-view, we stand to mistake our globes for the world itself.

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