An informed world view, or personal orientation, can be derived from the neurological, linguistic and behavioral consequences of acknowledging the inevitable limitations of both differences and similarities.
We tend to discriminate against people to the degree we fail to distinguish between them. – Irving J. Lee
I submit that this informed orientation can be characterized by considering these seven aspects.
1. About Ourselves in the World
To varying degrees, we each have common human capabilities and limitations. We have imperfect sensing capabilities. We have nervous systems that can mislead and misinform us. We have physiological and neurological limitations. In this respect we are all “in the same boat,” but yet we are each uniquely-individual human beings with different-sized and types of paddles, so to speak. If we don’t acknowledge these differences in our capabilities and limitations, we will misunderstand our perceptions of the world around us. So, how do we work? More.
2. About the World Around Us
We are a part of the natural world. We can view that world, and ourselves, from the perspective of a problem-solving, or scientific, attitude. We can observe, create theories or assumptions, test those theories, then depending based on then results, we can apply, modify, or discard them. We get into trouble when we ignore this process and rely on unchallenged or untested assumptions, beliefs, or feelings. An important aspect of a scientific approach is predictability. How well does what you know, or what you learn through questioning and testing, prepare you for the future? More.
3. Our Perspectives about the World (and Others) Around Us
Each person carries a background of unique-to-them experiences. Each comes from unique family, societal, religious, and political cultures. Each will interpret events or situations differently. Each has different sensing abilities. Perspectives may change over time but each person maintains their own unique perspective. Can you really see from another’s perspective, or walk in another’s shoes? Can you recognize and acknowledge how your perspective may be different from another’s? More.
4. About Language
Every everyday language results from choices made by humans—some deliberate, some accidental, some arbitrary. No language can be considered inherent, or inerrant. Language constitutes one critical aspect of human behavior, perhaps the defining feature for humans. Our languages ought to adapt to reflect the latest state of what we know about ourselves in our world. And that “latest state” recognizes the inevitable differences that can arise even among people who communicate using the ‘same’ language. More.
5. Behavioral Consequences of our Language and Perspectives
We react to the events, people, and situations we encounter. We can deliberately evaluate our experiences before we react. We have the cognitive means to respond to events conditionally—not automatically like Pavlov’s dog. However, we often allow certain words, labels, symbols, etc., to determine our reactions, rather than responding to the real-world things the labels stand for. Sometimes we fail to delay our actions, judgments, and responses. We jump to conclusions, overlook details, and don’t critically differentiate this experience from similar experiences. Sometimes we allow ourselves to be fooled, managed, and manipulated when we don’t vigilantly guard against mistaking the word as the thing, or when we fail to discern that the map is not the territory. More.
6. Learning from Lived Experiences, and Applying What We Learn
We can learn from our own experiences, from others’ experiences, from books and media. We can learn from virtually any kind of experience or source. Language provides the means by which to assess and articulate our learning. Therefore the quality of our knowledge—how and what we learn—is dependent on the quality of our language behaviors and our evaluative judgments that guide our behaviors. But simply learning or knowing makes no difference unless that knowledge is reflected in our behaviors. Do we do what we know? Are our motivations and expectations consistent with our knowledge and experience, as well as appropriate to each new situation? More.
7. Putting It All Together in a General World View, or Orientation
How can we integrate, construct, and articulate a deliberate, informed world view that’s predicated on this fundamental premise of differences? What basic understandings can we use as a foundation for learning and teaching the skills necessary to critically differentiate and discern in a world of differences? A necessarily incomplete summary of “differences that make a difference.” More.