I chose this week’s painting to represent our ‘Thought’—Paradigm. To me, it illustrates the many ways we see and respond to art of any kind. We see art through a certain ‘Paradigm’ lens honed by the influence from our environment. Some will see this painting through the lens of : Huntsman, Ornithologist, Environmentalist, Fine Artist or others.
I completed this Oil in August. Through the paradigm of a Fine Artist hobbyist, I liked the season, composition and vivid colors. Jerry Yarnell’s Volume One, Painting Basics, inspired it.
The word ‘Paradigm’ comes from the Greek. It was originally a scientific term, and is more commonly used today to mean a model, theory, perception, assumption, or frame of reference. In the more general use, it’s the way we ‘see’ the world—not in terms of our visual senses of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, interpreting.
When the way we ‘see’ our world experience changes, we call it a ‘Paradigm shift’. These are often dramatic and memorable. Stephen R. Covey shared this personal story in, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
“I remember a mini-paradigm shift I experienced one Sunday morning on a subway in New York. People were sitting quietly—some reading newspapers, some lost in thought, some resting with their eyes closed. It was a calm, peaceful scene.
Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway car. The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed.
The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, and even grabbing people’s papers. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing.
It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not believe that he could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all. It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated too. So finally, with what I felt was unusual patience and restraint, I turned to him and said,
“Sir your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?”
The man lifted his gaze as if to come to consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly, “Oh you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”
“Can you imagine what I felt at that moment? My paradigm shifted. Suddenly I saw things differently, and because I saw differently, I thought differently, I felt differently, I behaved differently. My irritation vanished. I didn’t have to worry about controlling my attitude or my behavior; my heart was filled with the man’s pain. Feelings of sympathy and compassion flowed freely. “Your wife just died? Oh, I’m so sorry! Can you tell me about it? What can I do to help?” Everything changed in an instant.”
“Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world not as it is, but as we are—or as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms. When other people disagree with us we immediately think something is wrong with them. But sincere, clearheaded people see thing differently, each looking through the unique lens of experience.”
It appears to me, our culture too often squanders mental capital seeking ways to destroy an opponent’s character and/or point of view. When opponents employ this strategy, the end result may be expressed in the proverbial, ‘Throwing the baby out with the bath water.” We’ve stopped communicating. We attack. This is not a winnable paradigm. ‘My way or the highway’ mantra leads to dead ends. A worthy ideal, to benefit all, is aborted at the hands of hubris. Everyone looses. Valuable mental capital was poorly invested. Investing in communication can result in: Seeing, Thinking, Feeling and Behaving differently. It’s not too late!
“The person who is truly effective has the humility and reverence to recognize his own perceptual limitations and to appreciate the rich resources available through interaction with the hearts and minds of other human beings.” –Stephen R. Covey
“And over all these virtues [see verses 8 -13] put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14