Apr 102012

I was discussing the concept of  “developmental levels of worldview” with a friend. She keep wanting to imagine that my description of a hierarchical, predictable sequence of developmental stages suggested increasing “smartness” or “betterness.” I was having trouble getting across the ideas that any worldview stage is perfectly fine so long as it serves the needs of your current circumstances and does not oppress others.

Eventually, I suggested that progressive developmental levels was like a progressive experience of elephants:
[This does not accurately represent my belief system; it’s just an imaginary hierarchy of experience.]

  • What’s an elpherbunt? (simply no clue)
  • I have heard of elephants.
  • I have read a story about elephants. (unable to independently anticipate the experience of an elephant’s subsonic rumbles)
  • I have seen an elephant at the circus.
  • I have watched elephants at the zoo. (the most common limit to likely developmental stages)
  • I have lived with elephants in the wild. (few people would even imagine that anything more was possible)
  • I have memories of being an elephant.
  • I have always been an elephant. (few elephants would even imagine that anything more was possible)
  • I am the race memory of all elephants.
  • I Am that I Am. (God’s description of himself in Exodus)

Each stage is adequate for the needs of certain individuals in certain circumstances.

At each stage, some greater [effort or] involvement has been achieved to have had a larger understanding.

At each stage, it is difficult to explain the experience adequately to some who has not been there.

At each stage, it is difficult to imagine the richness of knowing involved in additional stages.

I’m not suggesting that all of these stages are actually plausible for an individual. But, then again, how could you actually be certain of that unless you were I Am?

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Mar 082012

I found a relatively new poster at open.salon.com. http://open.salon.com/blog/not2late4 She writes with thoughtful passion about ways that she has had to face and reason about controversial situations. It turns out that I was the first one to “favorite” her and we exchanged several messages. She was distressed by the strong anger that one her articles had provoked and was considering withdrawing from the site. I hope that she will carry on.

Dear Kat,
People who write like you do are really annoying. This is actually a good thing. Don’t worry about it. Keep it up. Perfect your art. I got a bumper sticker for my wife’s car that said, “Well behaved women seldom make history.” Margaret Mead is quoted as saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  You may also draw more encouragement from http://herestothecrazyones.com/ As an award-winning elementary school teacher, my wife always kept the quote prominently framed on a wall … at student’s eye level.

If you read some of my stuff posted at SocioDynamics.org (some of which is cross-posted at open.salon) you will see that I have been wrestling with the questions of why some people are persistently fearful, angry, ignorant, or bigoted. I’ve found many answers in the science of psychosocial development. Unfortunately, the answers point to the fact that, in sequential developmental stages, there will just be things that many people can’t understand yet. And, they will dislike you intensely for discussing those things.

Introducing a new idea is, for them, like bringing a new cat into the house. There is no, hello-how-do-you-do. There is just reflexive hissing, arched backs, and hair on end. But, in time, it (usually) settles down to shared naps in the sunny spot on the floor. If there is hope for cats, there is hope for the public discourse of ideas… and maybe even all of humanity.

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