from The Worldview Literacy Book   copyright 2009            back to worldview theme #3   

    Discussion     Imagine two idealized people: person A, with worldview and associated behavior dominated by worldview theme #3: "Focused Vision," and person B, who similarly holds the diametrically opposite theme #4:  "The Big Picture: Global Vision."  Consider three differences between these people.

     The first two differences are contrasted using a space vs. time plot to characterize worldviews.  This is a graph in which distance from the current location is plotted vertically, and time elapsed since the present moment is plotted horizontally (with points to the right in the future, points to the left in the past).  Imagine that we can locate the thoughts and concerns in each individual’s mind in this plot—plotting one point for each of them. Looking at our finished products (Figures #3a, b), we note person A's points cluster around the center or origin of the graph.  In contrast, person B's points typically extend out from the origin much farther in all directions.  Why?  Person A spends more time mentally living and operating in the present, whereas person B's thoughts more frequently take him or her back into the past or forward into the future.  So most basically, Person A's worldview is 1) more here and now centered and 2) takes in a smaller space-time field of view than Person B's.

     We can imagine a third difference in vision: in "resolution." Perhaps person A pays more attention to small detail, while person B sees overall patterns better.  In the metaphorical forest, the former appreciates the trees, the latter the forest.  This could carry over to how they classify information: person A being more of a "splitter," person B more of a "lumper."  Splitters focus on the differences in collections of things they encounter, whereas lumpers look for similarities.  Splitters tend to be more analytical and reductionistic.  When working with organized wholes possessing a hierarchical multi-level structure, conceivably person A tends to move from higher to lower levels of organization, person B in reverse fashion.  (Note: presence of this third difference is less characteristic of those with "Focused Vision" than the first two!)

      The preceding discussion characterizes "Focused Vision" in a space and time context.  After reading the corresponding discussion for "Global Vision" (see Discussion, theme #4) you'll better appreciate the contrast between these two themes in that context.  With their smaller field of view, what do those with "Focused Vision" typically tend to concentrate on?  One general answer is themselves.  They often are egocentric, with a self-centered viewpoint that narrowly limits the outlook to focus on their feelings, needs, concerns, problems, and activi-ties.  Some are more introverted than extroverted.                       

     Now, put yourself into the shoes of someone who possesses "Focused Vision."  What would it be like to be this person?  First of all, you are self-centered to the extent where such empathizing is difficult!  You best do it with members of your


immediate family.  That point made, consider how you typically spend your time.  After dealing with your own personal problems, which often involve emotional needs and psychological issues, you attend to the daily challenges posed by home, job, and family problems.   You are typically very busy! 

     To best cope, you become goal-driven and task oriented. You set short-term goals and identify steps needed to attain them.  You narrowly focus attention and energy on completing particular tasks by concentrating on their immediate cognitive and mechanical aspects.  You've become efficient at solving problems a certain way: confronting their basic aspects, strip-ping away the rest, and avoiding getting sidetracked by how these problems connect to the wider world—one that could involve the past, future, more people, greater geographical area, and emotional, aesthetic, ethical, and philosophical concerns.      

     You try to efficiently use your time and in a narrow sense you sometimes succeed.  But alas, your frequent failure to step back and see what's really important means you often waste time: nit-picking, solving little problems, seeking perfection when less would suffice, micro-managing when you should be delegating, or with seemingly big problems you get obsessed with!  You don't recognize the really big problems when they potentially lurk out there in the future.  Then they are smaller, more tractable.  But when they finally appear on your screen they loom large!  Then, rather than having time to analyze and select the best plan from alternative ways of tackling them, you have few or no alternatives and little time.  If you'd only been able to change your perspective and had seen them coming!  And something else: in the future, you need to better apply lessons learned from past mistakes! 

     The above characterization is set in the real world of daily crises, where "the squeaky wheel gets the grease!"  While it depicts someone who succeeds in a narrow sense, it communicates a sense of pettiness, of anxiety-driven pre-occupation with problems. This makes it rather unattractive.  Consider instead a person who embraces only the start of this theme: "I am focused on the here and now."  Leaving the past behind can be liberating!  As Eckart Tolle puts it, "I have little use for the past and rarely think about it."  Before learning to appreciate The Power of Now (the title of his 1999 book), he "lived in a state of almost continual anxiety."  Meditation, yoga and related techniques are routes many take to "live in the moment."

     "Focused Vision" is but one worldview theme. Before one's overall worldview can be described as narrow, the rest of what it is built on most be considered.  Of the eighty such possible worldview theme choices, some are narrower than others (see Figure #3c).   Those who exhibit "Focused Vision" are more likely to hold worldviews incorporating these choices than are those whose outlook is not so limited in space and time. 




Fig #3c: WV Themes w/ Narrow Focus


Focused Vision 




Religious Fundamentalism




The Collective Cognitive Imperative


Bitterness and Vengeance


Struggling With a Basic Need: Sustenance








Struggling With a Basic Need:        Self Esteem

Figure #3d

Focused vs Global Vision

Two Metaphors

1) The Lens you View the World Through.  Those with Focused Vision use one with a much narrower field of view.

2) How you Filter the Stream of Information. Everyone filters the stream of information coming at themotherwise they'd be overwhelmed by all the stimuli.  Those with Focused Vision  use filters letting much less information through.

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