Tag Archives: paradigm shifts

Two Different Worlds

I keep thinking about that old song that began “Two different worlds, we live in two different worlds….” I don’t remember most of the lyrics, but it ended with something to the effect that the singer was longing for the day when “our two different worlds are one.”

Yeah–me too.

In the wake of the election, in addition to the usual recriminations and finger pointing, there has been a wave of “petitions” to the White House, demanding the right of states to secede.  The conspiracy nuts have been working overtime, generating dark, brooding theories about Obama’s plans to destroy America. Evidently, his incomprehensible victory at the polls is the sign of the apocalypse. Or something.

Meanwhile, in that other world–the one I thankfully inhabit–there are signs that the fever has broken. Congressional Republicans are sending grudging signals that they may consider cooperating to do the public’s business. Rightwing pundits are sounding a bit less intransigent–Hannity is “evolving” on immigration, and Bill Kristol concedes that a small increase in millionaires’ tax rate probably won’t kill the economy. Janesville, Wisconsin–home of Ryan the Rigid–just passed a ordinance extending domestic partner benefits to city and library employees. (It passed 6-1.) Little by little, inhabitants of the real world are going about the business of reconciliation.

What does that say about the “other” world? The one where the Kenyan Socialist Muslim is plotting to confiscate all the guns and destroy liberty as we know it?

There’s a theory that during periods of rapid social change, when societies are experiencing “paradigm shifts” to accommodate those changes, significant numbers of people are unable to make the conceptual change. As their existing worldviews get more and more “out of sync” with the world around them, their behaviors become more and more “maladaptive.” They are less and less able to cope with the world as it is, and their response to that cognitive dissonance gets more bizarre.

Eventually, of course, those who cannot adapt–disproportionately folks in my own advancing age bracket–will die off.  And for a while–at least until the next paradigm shift–those two different worlds will be one.