Monday, September 25, 2006

Paradigm Shift

For those unfamiliar with the concept of paradigm shift, I once heard it explained this way:

A man was riding the subway home from work and watched as a haggard looking woman with her four vociferous children climbed aboard. The moment the doors closed the children began tearing about the car with reckless abandon while the haggard woman merely stared into space as if she saw nothing.

The man slowly became annoyed by the woman's indifference to her children's horrid behaviour and finally approached her, asking her to control her children. The woman quickly apologized as she rounded up her children and then offered the following explanation of her absent-mindedness.

"I am sorry sir, we just came from the hospital where my husband died suddenly today. I was trying to find the words to explain this to my children and I guess I got lost in thought."

The man was nearly struck dumb by this as his annoyance vanished into shame for his anger with this poor woman and pity for her plight. He had experienced the extreme change in his point-of-view that is a paradigm shift.

I bring up the topic of paradigm shift today because lately I have taken stock in my own complete paradigm shifts. In religion I have gone from devout Mormon to agnostic bordering on atheist. In politics I have gone from Republican to dissident with large amounts of disdain for both parties. In my views on sex and sexuality I have gone from the narrow Christian view of sex being between one man and one woman to acceptance of my poly-amorous, bi, and homosexual friends even to the point of fighting for gay marriage. It makes me wonder what other changes are in store for me as my horizons broaden?

Scott Adams posed a question the other day on the Dilbert Blog asking, "If a man goes into the forest and pokes a bear with a sharp stick, and the bear kills the man, whose fault is it?" He then further poses, "Now substitute an irrational human being for the bear. The guy with the stick knows he’s dealing with an irrational and potentially violent person, and he pokes him with the stick anyway. Just like the bear, the irrational guy kills the guy who poked him." Who's fault is it? This further begs the question, who is the truly irrational one, the poker or the pokee? (Further, is pokee even a word?)

When applying this conundrum to the middle east crisis, for instance, we have three major groups, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Logic dictates that for the doctrine of any one to be right the other two HAVE to be wrong. This is assuming that all three groups aren't suffering from different versions of the same delusion. Imagine for a moment finding out the followers of a faith other than your own were the only right ones. No matter which faith you pick, you will only have a very small percentage of the world with you in heaven. Maybe it is my inner atheist talking but to me this doesn't sound like the hand of an all knowing and loving God. The logic flaw to me is quite clear but how does one create a mass paradigm shift amongst billions of people at once? Find the answer to that and you have found the solution to world peace. Or maybe it is I who is irrational.