The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

What Came First: Word, World, or Worldview?

According to the Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the Word.”  Translated from the Greek word,  λόγος (logos), many consider the “word” here to mean God.  However, the Greek logos can also be translated as thought or meaning.

What does come first?  Do we create words to describe the world we see?  Do the words we use influence our perception of the world?  Or perhaps, the way in which we understand the world (our worldview) shapes the way we view the world, and hence, the words we choose to describe it?  No matter which come first, we cannot deny that each influences and is influenced by the other two.

Sometimes we forget this, and when we do we can slip into a ego-centric or culture-centric viewpoint.  Let me use an example to illustrate what I mean.

Consider the western view of past and future.  In the western cultural worldview the past as viewed as being behind us, whereas the future is in front of us.  So, we say things like: put the past behind you, look to the future, don’t look back, leave the past behind.  Yet, not all cultures see things in this way.  I can think of at least one language in which the word for past is the same as the word for in front of, and the word for future is the same as the word for behind.1  Hence, in this worldview, the past is in front of us, and the future is behind.  Thus, it is easy to see the past – its right there in front of us.  And the future is somewhat murky – its behind us after all.

So, the question remains:  In the western cultural setting, did we think of the past being behind us before we came up with the words past and behind, or did we have the words and then the words shaped our thinking of where past and future lay in relation to us?

This may be a simple example, yet we are consistently applying our language to the world we see, and creating our worldview from that, and then our worldview shapes the way we think of the world and the words we use.

What is the point of this?  Dr Wayne Dyer put it succinctly when he noted that when you “change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  This has important implications for our work for social justice or community development.  For example, if we think of people as victims, needy, or disadvantaged, or even as clients or customers, then that is what we will see.  We will miss seeing the person with skills, knowledge and wisdom.  Yet, if we change that thinking (worldview) then we will be surprised at what opportunities can arise or emerge from our interactions with others.  Not only will creative opportunities emerge, but the interaction itself will be healthier, more respectful, and enjoyable for all concerned. 

Becoming more aware of how we use words to describe our world and in turn how that influences our worldview can help us become more conscious of the limitations of our beliefs and cultural patterns, habits and mores.

Notes:

1. The Māori language.

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