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Defining A New Worldview

Defining A New Worldview

Worldview defense system

Every day our subconscious weaves the experiences of the day into a previously written story. A story that has been outlined, drafted, written, and rewritten everyday of our life. This story influences our assumptions, our perception, the things that we do and don’t say, and the actions we do and don’t take.

In German there is an amazing word for this story, “weltanschauung” (welt-an-schau-ung). Meaning a particular philosophy or view of life; the worldview of an individual or group.

By definition a worldview is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual, group, or society encompassing the outlook of the individual, or a collective group’s experience, knowledge, and perspective.

I believe that a worldview is actually a highly attuned automated defense system. It works as a filter in two ways. Firstly, to help us process events in real-time as they occur (bias), and secondly by filtering what gets stored into and discarded from the system, making it more adept and effective over time (subconscious).

Consider that every experience we have ever had, has been biased by a contextual filter. In fact in this very moment as you are reading this, it is there, sifting through each grain of this article. Probably telling you I am completely full of shit. And that is interesting… why?

Our minds filter and bias as a way of protecting us. An always on subconscious subroutine scanning to detect what we can or cannot safely accept based upon current and past inputs. It really is a biological defense system.

This particular system also requires a highly refined super fast knowledge base to be effective. As our psyche attempts to process the constant stream-of-consciousness of our lived experiences, there is far more information available, than could ever be written to disk.

Again the filter determines what gets written, overwritten, or filtered out altogether. Because there is so much information the filter tends to seek the highs and lows of our experiences first, and definitely never misses a low.

This is why when you last went on vacation all you remember is the really bad sunburn you got. There were like a bazillion miracles that occurred for you to have that singular experience, but no, all that data was flushed. The sunburn information is stored first because it is useful to ensure your continued survival. Storage of this information protects you. Your worldview is an elastic always adapting human defense system optimized to bias towards keeping you alive.

Shared versus filtered worldview

Awareness of worldview can vary considerably from one person to the next. For some this may be a completely new idea. While others may be very much in touch with this story. Some actively curate new experiences to inform and expand it.

Who is in our inner circle and who is not is a direct reflection of our worldview. We tend to gravitate towards shared experiences with others that share our worldview, which serves to confirm and reinforce it.

Generally, when we are with others that share our worldview we feel confident, safe, and openly and actively exchange thoughts, beliefs, and ideas without hesitation. Through this discourse we establish the foundations of relationships. We build rapport through worldview, and begin to explore common interests, develop connections, and eventually establish trust.

When we aren’t certain we are in friendly territory we consciously filter how we communicate. Depending on our level of awareness of worldview, our posture changes, our tone shifts, we speak less, and each word is generally far more considered, that when we are relaxed.

When we are with others that do not share our worldview we no longer trust the cruise control and have switched to manual. Our worldview which is normally happily buzzing along in the background of our subconscious, is suddenly thrust into consciousness.

We filter consciously in the interest of “keeping the peace” and to avoid conflict. We do this because we are social animals and have learned to survive through-the-ages by maintaining some degree of social cohesion. We do this in the shared interest of maintaining the “greater good.”

Every successful family gathering around the holidays is often about manually filtering worldview, to sidestep and avoid unnecessary awkward or incompatible views. This is also why almost all conversations with strangers intuitively start small. We filter in this way socially constantly and often aren’t even aware we are doing it.

Virtual worldview

Today in part, because of our adoption and use of personal technology we are becoming more and more inflexible in our worldview. We use screens like a digital magnifying glass. We use screens to collect and harness information into a concentrated focal point. We concentrate so much energy collectively that “virtual fires” are a daily occurrence —virtual wildfires are the new normal.

We use technology to sharpen and curate our personal worldview. Technology makes it far easier to triage information and people out that do not agree with us. This makes input into our worldview less diverse, less inclusive, more concentrated, and less flexible.

We join or create virtual niche affiliation groups which provide the benefits of safety, inclusion, and reinforcement or our worldview, with the added benefit of anonymity. Virtually there is little to no meaningful social accountability.

Within highly specialized virtual affiliations without social accountability, group-think reigns. There is little to no disagreement and objectivity fades. We begin to lose sight of truth in favor of collective opinion. There is no clear delineation between fact and fiction.

Whenever a troll (someone intentionally or unknowingly questions the collective worldview within a virtual affiliation) no productive discourse or disagreement occurs. Instead the hive attacks the invader because worldview is a defense mechanism. Conflict replaces discourse because there is no social accountability. Eventually the invader gets blocked or removed to prevent further or future unrest.

All this time, effort, and energy invested in virtual safety bubbles allows for the troubling trend of favoring individual opinion (which aligns with our personal worldview) over the actual world (scientific research, data, facts, and the pursuit of truth.)

Virtual worldview is the new religion. Opposing niche groups do battle, and scheme against one another, to prove and assert dominance over the perspectives of others. This virtualization of world view is deepening the social divide.

While we peel off into virtual safety zones we lose sight of the value of entertaining ideas that contradict our own. We risk losing the ability to entertain multiple opposing ideas. Our intolerance expedites lose-lose, all or nothing resolutions.

Soon we will no longer remember how to rise above our differences in the collective interest and well-being of “the common good.” The same way we no longer remember phone numbers.

Open source worldview

So why does all this matter? When faced with collective human crises such as a Global Pandemic and Climate Change, it is our stubborn willful adherence to a fixed inflexible highly individualized worldview that puts us all at risk.

Without the ability to loosen the grip, entertain opposing or non-complementary viewpoints, we fall prey to the limitations of our biological monkey brains. We fight. Without the ability to seek some amount of compromise, find mutually agreeable win-win outcomes, and to simply get out of our own way as a society, the ability to rally in the interest of the “greater good” will be lost. Instead replaced by a disastrous end-game, of endless infighting. While the global problems proliferate unaddressed.

When are we going to grow up, and stop acting like two siblings bickering in the back seat of the car? If we keep this up, we won’t ever get where we need to go.

In the old days of software we used to have similar religious wars about process and use of specific technologies. And what has emerged as a result is a fantastic solution. The creation of public open source libraries. Open source engineering allows teams to choose specific technologies to address specific needs, similar to how a chef might source ingredients for a recipe.

I propose that a similar approach is required to address the global issues facing all of humanity today.

We need an open source approach to worldview.

Suppose we begin by unpacking each of the known solutions. And rather than view them as all or nothing options, we simply add them to a library. This enables a scalable system where solutions can be mapped to target and address highly specific needs. What would it feel like to stop wasting so much time trying to agree on a singular universally adopted worldview?

This approach fundamentally shifts the conversation from an all or nothing approach to a more sophisticated debate of selecting the right tool for the job.

Perhaps instead of allowing ourselves to remain divided, we could have more thoughtful conversations that lead to smaller, more targeted, actionable solutions. All or nothing thinking is going to lead us to nothing.

So how do we get started? Perhaps it begins by remembering despite our differences, that we are all suffering through these crises together. We are all impacted, we are not alone. We are all hurting, we are all angry, we are all tired, impatient, and struggling to cope. These burdens are something we all share. There is common ground there.

Perhaps instead of making things worse with endless complaints and punishing one another virtually, we might realize how much time and energy we are wasting. What would it look like to take responsibility for part of what brought us to where we now find ourselves.

What if we stopped responding to anger with anger, softened our voices, stopped pointing fingers, blaming, escalating, and being disrespectful virtually or otherwise.

What would it look like to confront our fears instead of being ruled by them? Suddenly maybe it doesn’t matter so much to be right all the time. Perhaps this would create enough space for us to really truly begin to listen to one another.

I submit to you that the answer will not be found in some single great event or massive upheaval. There will be no public announcement, or clear signal. We can no longer look to leaders because that makes us all followers.

Perhaps it is time to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, shake hands, open up to our differences, and remember the value of “we” instead of “I”, and start leading ourselves together.

Assumptions for New World Design

Assumptions for New World Design

On first assumptions

The problems facing humanity are many and significant in size, complexity, and scope. Below are the first operating assumptions for delivering new models.

  1. Our shared global climate crisis is the most significant threat to the future of humanity.
  2. All of the resources and technology required to eliminate human social, economic, and environmental ills already exist today.
  3. Our current worldview is obsolete, incapable of keeping pace with the exponential advancement of technology, and limits human potential.
  4. Solutions derived from within our current worldview, only serve to prolong and reinforce it. Without some disruption of the status quo, no meaningful progress is possible.
  5. A new worldview is required to overcome the limitations of current conscious and subconscious biases, beliefs, and systems.
  6. Earth is our only home. There is no “planet B.” Because we all share this planet, we are all connected to it, and we are all connected to each other.
  7. A brighter future is possible for people and the planet if we are able to evolve our worldview.
  8. How might we evolve our worldview to ensure a sustainable coexistence with our home?

Principles for New World Design

Principles for New World Design

On first principles

A first principle is a basic proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced further [1]. Or as Aristotle put it, “the first basis from which a thing is known.”

First principles are the fundamental primitives of a problem space that are generally accepted as “truth.” Sometimes these are also referred to as assumptions. They are granular enough that they cannot be reduced further, yet confine the problem space with some constraint. They are the atomic units that help us to delineate a problem space.

By breaking large complex situations down into first principles, we are empowered to:

  1. Take inventory of current primitives and/or assumptions.
  2. Introduce new, remove existing, or replace existing primitives, with new primitives.

This process of deconstruction, introduction, and reassembly of primitives, is the core of design.

For example: Imagine you have a motorcycle.

If we deconstruct a motorcycle into its individual components or parts, we end up with: a motor, handlebars, mirrors, chain, gas tank, suspension, fenders, ignition, exhaust, wheels, lights, battery, etc.

Now, what might we be able to recreate from these individual components, simply by removing and reassembling the primitives?

  • One option might be to remove the motor and gas tank, reduce the overall weight, and build an electric bicycle.
  • Another might be to only employ the engine, gas tank, and chain to create a miniature generator to charge the battery.
  • Another might be to remove everything but the battery and lights and create a high powered flashlight.

By deconstructing an existing solution into core primitives, and by thoughtfully removing and recombining what’s left we begin to see new possibilities and new potential.

Through the exploration and visualization of new combinations of primitives, we begin to realize new benefits, of new models, and also identify potential new challenges. The goal is to find new combinations where the newly realized benefits outweigh the previous or newly discovered hindrances. This is the fundamental basis for human progress.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ―Buckminster Fuller

Through the rapid creation of new models, we visualize new possibilities. This is how humans have always advanced beyond the conventional limitations of the day. We are fully capable of change.

But humanitarian evolution enmasse will require new models. New solutions will require so much upside that these models have their own gravitational pull. This magnetic draw is what leads to adoption of change at scale.

Overcoming the old world

Without practice with first principles our outlook can be very dry, brittle, linear, rational, predictable sure, but also quite limited. Our tendency can be to approach a problem space with a predefined fixed mindset. Propped by a set of assumptions, biases, and beliefs —an old worldview.

Our outlook from this vantage is really only seeking to confirm what we already know.

When we look through our old world lens we are seeking validation, single-minded confirmation that we are right, more than we are seeking to understand. Within this frame all we are really capable of seeing, is what is right in front of us. It’s just a motorcycle. Because when all we expect is to be right, we forget to look beyond the obvious.

First principle worldview

First principle thinking is as much a new worldview as it is a simple thought exercise for problem solving. As we begin to see the motorcycle, as a collection of primitives, components, connected subroutines, and complex systems, we begin to see these mysterious patterns elsewhere in the world. When we begin to see the world as a complex multi-layered assemblage of systems and primitives it reignites our childlike curiosity. We begin to see differently.

As we see the present differently. Because we start to pick at the seams, we notice the quality of the stitching, and the color of the thread. We start to care more about how things are constructed and why they were produced. We begin to intuitively understand how ideas, events, and excuses have been sewn together from one generation to the next, for centuries.

We see history differently. Because we can internalize how the narrative was conjured to rationalize the faults, flaws, and mistakes. The litany of human tragedy. We begin to care less about being wrong and more about doing right.

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” —Joseph Chilton Pearce

As we look toward the future we begin to see a new possible reality. A new virtualized alternate future, full of infinite untapped potential. We begin to seek the untapped potential implicit within ourselves, others, and the world around us. And often as we begin looking for ways to share this new worldview with others, we are also often misunderstood.

For many of us, first principles and this new worldview is more about remembering, than it is about learning. Almost every child I have ever seen with a new Lego set knows exactly what i’m talking about.

Unfortunately for many of us as we grow up, shed our childhood, and sheath ourselves as adults, we lose sight of the joy of the infinite creations that might be constructed from that bin full of magical brightly colored pieces. The pure unbridled joy of creative potential is what we all need to recall, reconnect with, and reclaim, to start.

If we begin with first principles and a new worldview, we can see that the Lego bin just got a whole lot bigger.

Manifest for New World Design

Manifest for New World Design

What got us here won’t get us there

Today we continue to live, racially, religiously, politically, and economically segregated. We have unprecedented wealth inequality, hunger, and homelessness. We have a global pandemic and a global climate crisis.

Meanwhile we are more distracted, infatuated, and inebriated with technology than ever before.

“We only see what we want to see, we only hear what we want to hear. Our belief system is a mirror, that only shows us what we already believe.” ―Don Miguel Ruiz

All of the resources and technologies required to eliminate most human social, economic, and environmental ills already exist today.

We are capable of supplying enough food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, as well as social and spiritual fulfillment, to more than sufficiently meet the basic needs of all 7.8 billion human beings living on planet Earth.

So what is truly preventing us from establishing new systems to sustainably and humanely meet these challenges head on? What are the obstacles? What are the real constraints? What needs to change?

Our old worldview

Our current worldview is obsolete. It is “old world.” It has been pieced together and rationalized over thousands of generations and is derived from archaic societal beliefs that originated tens-of-thousands of years ago.

How we currently view the world, and our place in it, is distorted by entrenched, antiquated human beliefs and systems that no longer serve present human and planetary needs.

Our old worldview limits us because we continue to believe:

  • Everyone has the same opportunities.
  • Some people are better than others.
  • Some people are entitled to more than others.
  • Scarcity is intrinsic and resources are finite.
  • There simply isn’t enough.
  • In manufacturing desire.
  • In profits over people and planet.
  • In convenience over maintenance.
  • In comfort over certainty.
  • In quantity over quality.
  • In all-or-nothing systems or ISMs.
  • Technology is the solution.
  • We are isolated, divided, and disconnected from one another.
  • How we live today is how we live tomorrow.
  • Human inequality, inequity, exploitation, and suffering are inevitable and acceptable.
  • Exploitation and degradation of the planet are inevitable and acceptable.

A new worldview

Solutions which extend our current worldview, from our current biases and from ongoing unconscious assumptions, are fundamentally incapable of solving our current problems.

Solutions derived from within an existing paradigm only serve to prolong and reinforce the current paradigm. Without disruption of the status quo, no meaningful progress is possible.

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” ―Albert Einstein

By drawing on our collective unconscious biases and beliefs, we can begin to replace old world thinking with new modernized assumptions, to incrementally shift the entire trajectory of humanity. By acknowledging the limitations of our present beliefs and biases, we become capable of overcoming, and advancing beyond our current paradigm.

What if we instead decided to believe:

  • Everyone does NOT have the same opportunities.
  • Some are NOT better than others.
  • Some are NOT entitled to more than others.
  • Abundance is intrinsic and resources are infinite.
  • There simply is enough.
  • In manufacturing acceptance and gratitude.
  • In planet and people over profit.
  • In maintenance over convenience.
  • In certainty over comfort.
  • In quality over quantity.
  • In flexible public open-source systems.
  • Technology is NOT the solution.
  • We are whole, united, and all connected to one another.
  • How we live tomorrow is NOT how we live today.
  • Human inequality, inequity, exploitation, and suffering are NOT inevitable and acceptable.
  • Exploitation and degradation of the planet are NOT inevitable and acceptable.

What would that world look like?

“You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us. And the world will be as one.” ―John Lennon

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