On paradigms (or, why we can’t agree)

Each of us has a way of looking at the world – a paradigm. We each have things which we see as reprehensible, as regrettable but necessary, and as good. The problem comes when the paradigms run into each other. In those cases, our first reaction is to lash out at the other person who is supporting what we see as so reprehensible. We write them off – how could anyone possibly think that? There must be something severely wrong with them.

It takes tremendous effort to pull ourselves out of our paradigms enough to see the other’s point of view, even if just a little bit – to understand that perhaps they aren’t reprehensible, perhaps they do have good reasons for believing as they do, even if they are reasons that we reject. It takes so much more effort to understand than it does to dismiss – but understanding is so much more rewarding, if sometimes more frustrating.

Abortion, gay marriage, what constitutes free speech, what constitutes hate speech…etc. etc. It all falls under this problem of differing paradigms. We talk past each other instead of talking *to* each other. Paradigms make it so hard – when one talks about rights and free speech, one person’s reprehensible is another person’s must. Who gets to draw the lines? What’s what? This is what makes politics, and life, so hard sometimes. We have to draw lines at some point, to protect those who need to be protected. But where are the lines? It’s this sort of thing which makes me want to go hide my head in the sand…and sometimes I do, for a little bit.

Then I continue trying to understand – as much as I can, in my limited way. It may not change my mind, but it can definitely change my heart.


4 thoughts on “On paradigms (or, why we can’t agree)

  1. Interesting. I tend to be a mediator and consider both sides of everything. But I admit that some people’s paradigms cause me to become furious!

    Amusingly, my reason for support of gay marriage is the same main reason some oppose gay marriage: It sends a strong affirming message to gay youth that it is ok to be gay. This is critical. Whether you support gay rights or not, in basis the rejection of gay rights leads to gay youth desperation. Constantly hearing negative messages about gay people, while realizing that one is attracted to the same sex, especially for young people, causes extreme angst. I get so upset when I hear about gay teenagers and young adults committing suicide, and I firmly blame the anti-gay movement for them. Those pastors who spew anti gay rhetoric have blood on their hands.

    1. I agree with you on the first bit – completely!

      I am personally on the fence as to my opinion of the morality of homosexuality, for various reasons too long and controversial for a blog post comment. I think it’s absolutely awful, though, what some gay youth have gone through and agree with you about the pastors’ culpability. The more I think about it, the more I think gay marriage should probably be legal for reasons unrelated to anyone’s opinion of morality.

  2. Nice perspective there, Hannah. Instead of only reading about one’s opinions or struggle with an issue, it’s refreshing to read about the issue of HOW to communicate and dictate our opinions on those issues. I can certainly relate :)


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