1.06. How Worldviews Work

A few examples.

1. Let’s say John believes that society’s systems are designed to help rich, powerful people screw poor people out of the little they have, so that the rich can get richer at their expense.

And let’s say Gina has a somewhat opposite belief, that society works if everyone does their part, that orderliness and conformity lead to good outcomes for everyone, that we should assume the people in authority are honest and act society’s best interests.

John and Gina have their money in the same bank. The bank president spends several months siphoning money out of hundreds of accounts, including John’s and Gina’s. Based on their beliefs, John and Gina are likely to respond in completely different ways. Even if the FDIC makes both of them whole in the end, so that neither is permanently out any of the money from their accounts, they’re STILL going to have very different reactions to the whole episode.

2. Let’s say John believes that society’s systems are racist. Racism is an institutional thing, not just prejudices that reside in the hearts of the majority. And police, being part of the system, function to maintain law and order to benefit the majority at the expense of minorities.

And let’s say Gina believes that racism is primarily private. Laws should be color-blind, and not favor one group over another. Police maintain law and order to benefit everyone, to keep everyone safe, to restrain disorder and chaos and evil.

How are the two of them going to react when a black woman dies in police custody after a traffic stop? After a young black man is shot dead by police during an encounter where the policeman’s description is very different from the prevalent description in the community where the encounter took place.

These are examples of how worldviews work. What you see when you look at an event, an issue, depends a great deal on where you sit (your experiences and background, what we sometimes call “locations.”) This is an important realization; what you see depends a great deal on where you sit. “Where you sit” is a synonym for “worldview.”

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