First, we want the world to be different than it is, and we are constantly confronting the tension between what's real and what's ideal--the world we hope we can help make happen. Second, there's the tension within ourselves: am I doing enough in the face of what's wrong in the world? Or am I doing so much that I'm getting to the point of exhaustion, overwhelm and unsustainability?
The video in this post is an opportunity to explore two ways of expanding your perspective that can help you navigate these tensions and reclaim both your joy and your impact as you seek to answer your calling to make the world a better place.
Your worldview and your moral intuitions are lenses through which you view the world at an instinctive, often unconscious level. These perspectives usually precede your reasoning. This means you will typically look for evidence to confirm the world view and the moral instincts you already have, rather than the other way round. Why does this matter so much to your joy and your impact as a change agent? The more you understand about how the lenses you are already wearing influence what you see in yourself and in the world around, the greater your ability to develop a critical consciousness the better you will be able to navigate both external and internal conflict, and stay on course towards maximizing your own impact and sense of fulfillment in your work as a change agent.
On What Basis Do You Envision “A Better World?”
A worldview is a set of values and beliefs that each individual uses to make sense of the world around them. Your worldview typically has both cultural and psychological components.
There are all kinds of ways to sort world views—one useful approach uses these four categories:
The Institute for Cultural Evolution offers an online assessment that will give you insight into which of these worldview most closely resembles your own—and which of these world views you are least connected with. Why does this matter? Because your view of how the world works and how human nature operates is going to have a significant impact on your approach to your work as a change agent—to how you answer the call you feel to make the world a better place. For example, what does it even mean to you to make the world a better place? Exploring your world view can be particularly helpful when you are working with others—the more you understand about each other's philosophy of life, and what you find meaningful, the better you can support each other in finding impactful and meaningful opportunities to bring the world at least one step closer to your vision.
Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues have done survey research in multiple countries over the past 20 years seeking to understand the basis for our moral intuitions, and in the process they have identified six distinct "moral foundations" on which people draw in differing proportions.
1) Care/harm: This foundation is related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. It underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.
2) Fairness/cheating: This foundation is related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. It generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy.
3) Loyalty/betrayal: This foundation is related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. It underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it’s “one for all, and all for one.”
4) Authority/subversion: This foundation was shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. It underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.
5) Sanctity/degradation: This foundation was shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. It underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions).
6) Liberty/oppression: This foundation is about the feelings of reactance and resentment people feel toward those who dominate them and restrict their liberty. Its intuitions are often in tension with those of the authority foundation. The hatred of bullies and dominators motivates people to come together, in solidarity, to oppose or take down the oppressor.
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These are the same materials we use with the social entrepreneurs in our accelerator program and the funders we coach one on one. The world has never been more in need of a new, greatest generation of change agents and that's why we're opening up free access to these materials to anyone who's ready to make use of them!