Let’s Discuss Our World Views

There has been a great deal of talk about world views after the recent Forbes magazine article, How Obama Thinks.  In it writer Dinesh D’Souza attempts to explain Obama’s thinking process by trying to understand what makes up his world view.  He asserts that, “the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. is espoused by his son, the President of the United States.”  Former Speaker Newt Gingrich drew major criticism for even discussing the article. 

I found the topic most interesting because I encourage my students to examine their world views and that of the authors they read as a means for better understanding how to be critical thinkers.  The controversy confuses me because this discussion of Obama’s world view seems relevant.  After all, he is our president. 

First responses to the anticolonial comment included, “That’s outrageous!” or “What was he thinking?” While D’Souza’s assertions are controversial, it’s true that we don’t all see the world the same way.  It could be simple or complex, but it impacts everything and we never can truly walk in someone else’s shoes.  

Our world view is shaped by a variety of factors including: race, gender, health, socioeconomic status, religion, travel and work experience.  When we understand which factors shape how someone views the world, we can better understand why people think and act the way they do. 

Why then do so many condemn D’Souza for writing about it or Gingrich from speaking about it?  The discussion of world views is an important one because critical thinking requires us to think further and consider both our position and try to see the other side.

Obama, like the majority of Americans, is a descendent of immigrants.  His father was Kenyan and while the influence this has had on his worldview is debatable, it is a factor.  So why not discuss it? 

We will never develop a level of understanding unless we investigate the factors which make up our worldviews.  People are fascinated about what makes people’s life experiences so different.  The popular “Who Do You Think You Are?” investigates the ancestry of celebrities in an effort to discover how their roots shape their current lives. 

One thing most Americans share is a curiosity to know where we came from, how our ancestors led their lives and looking for commonalities in our experiences. 

Discussing our various world views strikes me as something truly American.

Is the Only Way to Improve the Gridlock in Congress to Clean House?

On February 15, Democrat Indiana Senator Evan Bayh announced he wasn’t seeking a third term. He cited strident partisanship and the constant gridlock in congress as reasons. It’s true, months do go by and nothing substantial gets accomplished. In an interview on The View he said, “It shouldn’t take a constitutional crisis or attack on the country to get Democrats and Republicans listening to one another and working together.” He added, “Politics has almost become tribal.”

This phrasing of tribalism has been used more frequently instead of partisanship. It means something much more severe. One definition of tribalism is, “the act of assigning assumptive qualities to anyone that one perceives to be not of one’s own group and the rationalizing of divine or benevolent motives behind abhorrent actions undertaken by one’s own group.”

More practical problem solving is necessary. Listening and compromising is necessary for action. There seems to be far too little dialog today. It’s difficult to name people in either the Democrat or Republican party who are willing to compromise. Without compromise, there can be no substantive action and this is hurting Americans.

Perhaps the route of the problem is the pervasive media eager to cover disputes or lobbyists or even special interest groups. What most agree upon is that there is a problem.

It seems Washington, DC changes even the most idealistic people after a few years. We need some enthusiastic new blood of both parties to facilitate real discussion compromise and action. I interviewed Sean Duffy on my radio show, Critical Thinking in the Real World, today. He is running against Rep. David Obey who has served in Congress since 1970. It will be a tough battle as Obey has a great deal of money, clout and connections. Yet, Duffy is willing to take on this fight because he believes Obey is out of touch with his constituents. He also is frustrated by his actions and said, “David Obey believes we can borrow, spend, and print our way out of this crisis. I think he and his friends in Washington are creating a greater crisis. The consequences of government spending for bailouts, budget increases, bloated entitlements and ‘stimulus’ spending will be staggering and unsustainable debt that will act as a dead weight around the neck of our economy.”

Career politicians are no good for the country. Term limits are a great idea. If Members didn’t have to worry about constant re-election cycles, they could spend more time on the people’s business rather than on securing their own jobs.

When I worked for Rep. Steve Gunderson from 1994 to 1996 as my first job out of college, I organized the group meetings called the Tuesday Lunch Bunch of moderates Republicans who then met with moderate Democrats. My responsibilities included delivering them pizza, soda, dessert as well as keeping track of attendance. That was one of Former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s best initiatives. Imagine having 30 to 40 Members of Congress talking together for an hour each week. As Senator Bayh said, that simply isn’t happening now. There was a lot of compromise then even with Democrat President Bill Clinton and a Republican majority in Congress. It is possible to have that today.

I have to believe that both Republicans and Democrats today really do want to make a positive difference. That is at least when they are first elected and before they get over-taken by Washington, DC and all that corrupts. Their ideas might be different, but they have to somewhere in there believe in the common goal–to serve.