Thursday, August 6, 2015

Parameters and Paradigms

I posted a tweet, recently, asking,

"Do your paradigms define your parameters,
or do your parameters define your paradigms?"

At some point during Jr High math, the concept of parameters was introduced which I found to be quite enlightening. I grew to see life and people in terms of individual parameters - that which defines boundaries of possible action such as values, circumstances, experience, personality, etc... While any number of possible actions could be a response to a given situation, an individual's parameters will identify which options are automatically excluded and which are most likely. (This is likely a large part of how I started noticing people's patterns and anticipating their responses.)

Paradigms are more like existing templates, usually of an external source. Politics, school of thought, nationality, ethnicity, science vs humanities, religion vs atheism, etc... This concept was brought to my attention in an anthropology class in which the liberal, feminist teacher liked to challenge and dismiss religion for its common sense of 'Tradition' (complete with singing and hands raised as known from Fiddle on the Roof). While I am not seeking to start a debate about which is 'right' - a ridiculous waste of energy, usually - I hope the evidence of the chosen paradigms is clear.

The point of my question is to consider whether your parameters are constricted to the boundaries of the paradigms you choose to accept or do you build your own boundaries, with what paradigm influences you choose, be they more or less evident?

Simple example.

American government has formed into a two party system. Other parties exist and people even run for office under those parties. But the strength of the democrat and republican parties is such that, without a major revolution of sorts, no other party will replace those two. The parties are the paradigms. To vote a person of a particular party means you ultimately vote for the whole party's platform. Does that mean you are obligated to therefore view the world and American issues according to that party's paradigm and only that paradigm? I sincerely hope not. 

Laying my thoughts out like this, it may well seem obvious, in the 'duh' kind of way, that people consciously would prefer to define their own parameters. In many ways, we all do. I would posit, however, that many are more rigid in their thought patterns than they might expect.

Wait, what do thought patterns have to do with this?

How do you think we define our parameters?

Food for thought.

On a side-note, if you can observe and discern another person's parameters - their motivations and principles, their character and so-forth - you can learn to anticipate the reactions and behaviors of those around you. This takes attention/observation and a certain level of active awareness. It also takes time, which may vary from person to person, influenced by many factors such as openness, self-awareness, how talkative they are, etc.

For example, one man I knew suggested at my speaking a need for help due to my illness that I should go back to the one he knew was my abuser rather than bothering people like him. Clearly troubling and upsetting. Months later, I heard him state his deep belief that under all the 'problems' a family might have, they are all actually good in the end. Suddenly, his dismissal (though still inappropriate) made much more sense.

I call it 'tipping the hand'. We all do it eventually. Some might feel threatened by that idea, but if you are introspective enough to be self-aware and honest about it, I think it would only feel threatening if you don't like what you find. If you know yourself, you might find that it makes things easier to simply be up front about things to begin with. Many don't understand why I am open and immediately so, but these very concepts are what help build my parameters.

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