What is your worldview? Can you articulate it? Do you understand what the term means?
Here’s one definition: “The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world” (thefreedictionary.com). That perspective may center around a philosophy, religious faith, self-constructed set of ethics or other criteria an individual deems most right and valuable in understanding and living life.
As I sit back and observe the differences between people, the frequent and openly hostile conflicts in the realms of politics and social issues, it comes down as I see it to a matter of conflicting worldviews and the resulting differences in values and actions consistent with those worldviews. How we see things around us and how we interpret what is happening in the world depends on our worldview. We then act (usually) in sync with our own worldview.
Naturally, worldviews can collide just as easily as some can live in relative harmony with others. I agree with the following from Michael Lind:
“A worldview is a more or less coherent understanding of the nature of reality, which permits its holders to interpret new information in light of their preconceptions. Clashes among worldviews cannot be ended by a simple appeal to facts. Even if rival sides agree on the facts, people may disagree on conclusions because of their different premises.”
As a Christian, I try to have a biblical worldview. Like anyone else, I’m sure I stray from my ideal at times. I don’t claim to have and know the biblical worldview. Mine is informed by my understanding of what the Scriptures teach and the firm belief in the absolute authority of those Scriptures as truth for all people for all time. The values that guide my life therefore are drawn from that worldview and the actions that result day in and day out should be consistent with that way of seeing and interpreting the world around me. (If you’re curious about whether you have a biblical worldview or not, you might be interested in this quiz on the topic.)
It is important for me to remember daily that it is unreasonable for me to expect others who do not share my worldview to believe or act in accordance with my worldview. They are living lives consistent with their worldview – not mine. Likewise, those with worldviews conflicting with mine do not have the right to expect me to adjust my beliefs and actions to accommodate their worldview. That is not to say that all worldviews are equally worthy of adoption. It is just an acknowledgement that we don’t all share the same one.
So rather than shout past one another in the midst of differences, rather than beat up others verbally, emotionally or in other ways to advance our own cause, perhaps we would do well to spend more time trying to understand one another’s worldviews that are at the core of why we believe and act as we do. That doesn’t mean we have to like or agree with anyone else’s beliefs or actions, but I think our world could benefit from more civil discourse that gets at understanding one another – maybe even learning to like or love one another in spite of differences – than continuing toxic exchanges that neither side hears nor understands because their worldviews just don’t filter life in the same way.