A Divided People – The Role of Worldviews

Series: Visions, Worldview & Divisions

I have often wondered why people from relatively similar backgrounds reach such diametrically opposed opinions about the critical issues in life and society. More to the point, it seems that people can’t even communicate with each other effectively about such important matters.

I’ve come to the conclusion that one important reason for the disconnect is that people approach such issues having very different underlying presuppositions which support their thinking. The most important set of these presuppositions are those that comprise a person’s worldview.

Worldview – a Platform for Thinking and Deciding

A worldview consists of one’s most basic and foundational beliefs about the nature of reality and human life. Our worldview is important because it informs all the opinions we form, beliefs we hold, and decisions we make about politics, religion, interpersonal relationships, personal goals and behaviors, science, societal reform, and more.

Everybody has a worldview. However some people have intentionally developed their worldview over time and as a result of study, reflection, discussion, and observation. Others, have, more or less, absorbed their worldview as they have been influenced by family, friends, media, teachers, faith leaders, and pop culture. Upbringing is a key influence for nearly everyone as early life absorbers. Some of these may never grow their worldview beyond their initially absorbed worldview. However, for many of other “absorbers,” political correctness largely shapes, or reshapes, their underlying worldview, as well as conditions the morphing of their worldview over time.

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Risks and Benefits: Everyone’s Concern

Now, what keeps sticking in my craw is the idea that our leaders don’t trust us to be able to think in terms of risks/benefits in analyzing what the next steps should be and what first steps should have been.

For my first post to this new blog, I’ve chosen the subject of our national response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve been uneasy about the handling of this crisis from the very beginning, but there is so much that is unknown, and so much of what is known that is difficult to understand. And that is complicated by the fact that experts abound who will tell us what is happening and how we should, even must, respond. And who am I to question the experts.

But right-minded skepticism can be healthy in the public arena when so much is at stake; specifically, the lives of so many citizens, especially the elderly and physically vulnerable, the economic wellbeing of an entire nation and world, the liberties our forefathers wrote into the constitution and too many thousands of our brave have died to defend, the retirement incomes, not of the rich, but of the middle class, the jobs of millions, many of whom go paycheck to paycheck even in the good economy that preceded the coronavirus and was stolen by it, and so much more.

To complicate matters even more, as a follower of JesusChrist I am compelled, as much as is possible, to consider even this issue from the perspective of a Christian Worldview, and in light of my commitment to Jesus as Lord. That said, often it is not as easily done as it is said. 

So, my thoughts and concerns regarding the past 6 weeks find partial expression in this post. 

I should say upfront that I have determined that the correct action for me as a Christian at this current moment, given our circumstances and the limited amount of knowledge that I have, is to obey the civil authorities; first, because they are the civil authorities and there is a biblical mandate to do so, and second because I am not sure that another course of action is better. 

But I must admit that I have a lot of concerns and questions about the way it has been handled from the word go; and I’m hoping there is a rigorous discussion, if not now, then after the current threat has passed. My biggest complaint so far is that this discussion is just now getting started; at least in the public’s hearing. I have been relieved to finally begin seeing in print and hearing over the airwaves, some critical thinking about the actions that have been taken.

Additionally, the presumption that the number of lives saved, in this moment, is not only the most important consideration, but the only consideration. I realize that for a Christian to question this presumption seems counter-intuitive and in a later post I would like to address that issue more directly; suffice it to say that i do question that presumption which trumps all other considerations.

I heard Governor Cuomo say, and please know I respect how he has handled the crisis for New Yorkers, that if his restrictions save just one life then they, i.e. his imposed restrictions, are worth it. Now I believe he means that in some sort of way; but I also believe he is smart enough to know that that isn’t strictly true. For if the saving of even one life was the exclusive concern for his role as Governor he would immediately lower the speed limit on all highways to below 40 miles per hour. Doing so would save thousands of lives each year in our country and hundreds in his state. Over the years those lives mount up. I appreciate a cars.com article from a year ago which poses the reality of such things with this article title, “Higher Speed Limits or Fewer Deaths? The Choice Is Yours, Study Shows.” Hmm! The choice is ours; provocative thought.  My son, Andy, knowing my concerns in this regard, referred me to a recent article in the New York Sun, by Edward Lampert, which makes the same point and that much better than I would be able to. 

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