Saturday, December 08, 2007

World View

I have been thinking about how each person has a world view, or perspective, on life. Where does this come from? How do we know whether our world view is a good one or not?

I think that beginning in childhood, we accumulate various influences that affect how we see life and the world. It begins with being influenced by (or rebelling against) our parents. We see their example in word and deed and form opinions about that. Once we start church attendance and school attendance, we are influenced by the various teachers we have, as well as our peers. This continues through high school and college. We begin to be influenced by media, whether it is newspapers, television, magazines, etc. Particularly persuasive speakers or writers may sway us more than we realize. We end up with a world view created by a hodge-podge of influences, some of which were accepted without any real thought.

Now that we are mature adults, it seems to me a good idea to reconsider our opinions and ideas and try to trace where they came from and if they are any good. This can be difficult, but it is better than drifting along without thought.

In my opinion, God and the scriptures are the best source for learning what life is about and what we should do with the life we've been given. Of course, our world view can influence how we interpret scriptures and what course we follow in choosing a religion or choosing to reject religion.

Other sources for learning are history and literature. If we read widely in these areas, we will get a more accurate picture of what works and what doesn't than we would if we restrict our reading to only those authors we know already agree with our perspective and opinions. Even the most objective of writers will be somewhat biased because of his world view. It's the same with teachers. Anyone who is in a position to select what material is presented and how it is presented allows at least some subconscious decisions to enter into the mix. That is why we should look to more than one source to educate ourselves.

As for choosing what to believe, that becomes an individual choice. The hope would be that we would do our best to choose based on facts rather than persuasive writing/teaching or what sounds good on the surface. We should learn to think things through and consider the consequences of whatever choice we are thinking about. Does it bring good into our lives and the lives of others, or does it bring bad?

Sometimes facts aren't enough. Faith enters into our choices, too. We think of faith as a religious term, but everyone has faith in whatever they choose to believe--evolution, atheism, Marxism, feminism, and other "isms" require faith from their followers. They require faith that the propositions are correct and good, whether they are or not. So it is actually a mix of facts and faith that form our world views.

Different people have different issues that concern them, so they look to different sources for answers. What concerns me is that sometimes people come to see problems where there are none simply because whatever world view they have arrived at conditions them to see things from a narrow perspective--if they are oriented to look for oppression everywhere, they will see oppression everywhere because that is what they have trained their minds to conclude upon viewing just about anything. So then we need to ask ourselves if we are being realistic or if we have bought into one philosophy to such an extent that we no longer see things as they really are. That can be difficult to sort out because we will have a tendancy to think that we are seeing reality, even when we are not.

I don't know the best way to evalute our world view and see whether it is good or not. The only thing I know to do is to consider the sources of our viewpoints and also to think through the consequences of having those viewpoints. It would also help to know what other viewpoints there are out in the world--that's where reading widely comes into play--so that we can consider those as well.

I said I didn't know the best way, but actually I do. It's just that it won't be acceptable to some. My best way is to consider all things in light of the scriptures and to pray about them, and to listen to God's prophets and apostles, found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For those who don't turn to religion, well, you can still read widely and think things through and do the best you can to sort out whether your views are reasonable or not.

One reason I have been thinking about all this today is the presidential election coming up in 2008 and all the candidates with all their ideas about how the United States of America should be run. We voters have a responsibility to make the best choice possible when we cast our votes in the primaries and in the general election. Some candidates have ideas that sound good on the surface, but when thought through, one realizes that those ideas will mean very high taxes, government interference, and/or wrecking the economy. They might mean loss of freedoms. So we need to consider things carefully and not cast our votes for reasons that won't lead this country and its people where they should go.

It's complicated, but giving conscious thought to our beliefs and opinions and ideas can make a big difference in how much good can come from our lives. I haven't covered nearly all that can go into this type of thinking and considering and each person will have his own ideas about it, but I hope that I have given you something to ponder.

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At 6:06 PM, Anonymous JR said...

Second sentence, fifth paragraph, just about the most important thing you said beyond the Scriptures.

At 6:27 PM, Blogger Mary A said...

Thanks, JR. The more information and viewpoints we take in, the better our own viewpoints will be.

At 6:18 PM, Blogger Rhonda said...

Terrific post~!
It's refreshing to read your thoughts and views.

At 6:36 PM, Blogger Mary A said...

Thanks, Rhonda! Glad you enjoyed the post.


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