Social Justice

What Influences Your Worldview?

What influences your worldview? - graphic of dialogue bubble containing a variety of people

We all have a mix of many different factors that shape our worldview. I thought I’d tell you some of mine and hopefully you’ll tell me some of yours.

Growing up

Education was highly valued in my family. My parents also believed in being very careful with money and not spending money you didn’t have unless it was for a mortgage, which should be paid off ASAP; I picked that up from them too.

My parents are a lot judgier than I am. For example, they were fat-shamers, and I’m very glad that I didn’t end up with body image issues as a result. If anything, their judginess pushed me more in the direction of open-mindedness, because I didn’t like their example.

Politically, my parents were pretty middle of the road and not actively in politics, although they regularly followed current events. They were both atheists, and religion was never something that resonated with me, although I find it interesting from a detached perspective.

Curiosity

I’ve always wanted to know, and know more. I’ve done a lot of reading ever since I was a kid. I want to understand the issues I’m interested in, and get information from multiple sources to put pieces together for myself. I don’t want to be spoon fed information; I like to do my own exploring. And when things set off my spidey senses, I tend to pursue them, which leads to things like discovering plagiarized blog posts, something that happened just yesterday.

Travel

I did my first international trip in high school, and then as an adult started travelling at 22, and I was hooked. Travel has opened my mind, and it’s also taught me a lot. I always used Lonely Planet guidebooks, which usually gave a pretty good synopsis of major historical issues, plus I went to a lot of museums and that kind thing. It gave me a sense of the world being bigger than just what’s what’s familiar to me, and helped me to appreciate that there are many ways of living that look nothing like my own. It also proved time and again that different language and cultures don’t have to stand in the way of genuine human connection.

Science

I’m pro-science, and I believe in the power of the scientific method of inquiry. If public health officials are saying one thing and politicians are saying another, I’m going with the public health people every time. If scientists are saying climate change is real and politicians are saying it’s not, I’m going with the scientists every time. Science doesn’t always get it right, but I like that the process is about always .

Social justice

I’m not entirely sure when social justice really started to be a thing for me, and I don’t recall if it was abrupt or more gradual. When I was in my first year of university, there was an Asia-Pacific Economic Conference event on the school’s campus. I didn’t go to the large protest that was organized, but some of my residence floormates did. The police badly bungled the situation, and a bunch of people ended up getting pepper-sprayed.

It was probably in nursing school that I really started thinking more about social justice, and then it was something that grew throughout my nursing career, as a lot of the population I worked with was marginalized, often in multiple intersecting ways. At this point, a social justice lens is an important part my worldview.

Sociology

I was a science girl. Through my seven years of undergraduate education, I didn’t take a single sociology course. Then when it came to do my thesis for my Master of Psychiatric Nursing degree, I planned to use a research method called autoethnography, which has roots in sociology. I had a sociology prof on my thesis committee, and he steered me in the direction of some really interesting stuff, particularly around othering. It’s definitely shaped how I view social phenomena, and it’s not an area I would ever have imagined myself venturing into.

Politics

I’m interested in certain political issues, but I’ve never been interested in politics itself, and would never consider firmly aligning myself with a particular political party or uncritically supporting everything they do. I’ve always leaned left of centre, and have drifted further left as time goes on, but that’s more about my values than politics, and in a given election, my vote could go to any of three different parties.

It’s bizarre to look at the situation south of the border, even at the best of times, because the so-called radical left in the U.S. really doesn’t sound all that different from the NDP government in power in my province that just won a resounding majority. And even the furthest right conservatives here would never dare to run on a platform to do away with public health care, because they’d get wiped off the map. It’s all relative.

Anyway, I’m mostly interested in politics because I think there are important social issues that need to be addressed. Aside from that, I don’t pay much attention.

Values

My values are a major factor in determining what I pay attention to. There’s a lot going on, and you’ve got to narrow it down somehow. Fairness in terms of how police treat the populace is important in my world. That grew for me around mental health, but has broadened to encompass other issues, including systemic racism. I think there are few, if any, social issues that stand alone; there are other things that come into play, and I think examining values is a useful exercise in unpacking how we relate to major issues.


So, that’s me and what’s influenced my worldview. What have been some of the factors that have influenced yours?

Social justice and equality word cloud

You can find more on social issues on the Social Justice & Equality page.

45 thoughts on “What Influences Your Worldview?”

  1. This was interesting to read. I like to see where people are coming from and why. It helps to understand why we don’t all think and feel the same way. We haven’t had the same experiences.

    Not sure I could answer mine really. Different alters have different world views, which explains why I’ve always been so confused and contradictory all the time. Questions like this either draw a complete blank, or fill my head with so much noise I can’t make out anything coherent. Or a little of both if you can imagine that’s possible.

  2. I really enjoyed this post – and the linked one about values. You got me thinking about the influences in my life too as many of your early experiences chimed with me. The values post was a welcome remind of things I have written about in the past and lost sight of recently. You’ve given me a reason to reflect and realign a bit after losing my way slightly since lockdown.

  3. This was a great read!

    And, a lot of what influences your worldview holds the same clout in mine.

    I could comment on any particular area, so I’ll just add, that…

    Education was stressed in my home, because in the early years of my growing up… no one had it!

    But, both parents went back to school and demonstrated the importance of it, for our family, moving forward.

    For myself, I learned that I loved learning while in university.

      1. I was a piss poor student through high school on up into university, but in university I became social… for the first time in my life really.

        To me, you cannot undervalue, the social skills that one acquires with the university experience.

  4. My father influenced me a lot. He was a typical liberal from New York City, though now he wouldn’t be liberal enough for the “woke” set. My parents were secular, and I’ve always been an atheist, though I am okay with theists, as long as they don’t lecture me about burning in hell or whatever thing. A huge influence on me has been women’s rights, including the choice to have an (early) abortion. It still boggles my mind that it wasn’t until the 1970s when women were “allowed” to do financial transactions and such sans a man’s permission. Ughhh! When people talk about returning to “old fashioned values,” I have to ask… you mean when women couldn’t obtain a credit card or get birth control without their hubby’s permission? When blacks were kept out of certain neighborhoods and Jews were told to be accountants not engineers. Those values? Because barf 🤮. I got a lot of these ideas from simply reading books, fiction and nonfiction, about people’s lives and social structures. I also had some good professors at Cal State Northridge. My ex husband was a big influence on me when we were married and I still believe in some of his better ideas (before mental illness consumed him). Probably his biggest contribution to my life is his philosophy of when in doubt, do nothing. This is in general of course, but often we feel pressured to make a decision before we have to. If we wait, there could be better data to help us. Anyway, big ramble! 💖

  5. The politically neutral international charities I have worked for have shaped my view and the opportunities I had to work with people in other lands and in the UK who were from different cultures and backgrounds. It has changed my view of the world. I see a human family and a beautiful home and it upsetting to see others causing division.

  6. At first my values centered on my upbringing in a “Christian” home. I started travelling back in the eighties which opened my eyes to so many atrocities, like, homelessness, poor people who had to choose between paying rent or buying groceries.
    I re-examined many of my ideas when it comes to what I am. I am more inclusive in my values, less judgmental of people. More critical though of doctrine that people push from pulpits.
    I am not what I started out as a young adult, truth be told, I think I am still evolving in thoughts.

  7. That’s really interesting. I’m sure you can appreciate that my mom’s a liberal and my dad’s a conservative. When I was around thirteen, I said to my mom, “Tonight’s episode of Roseanne is about a lesbian kiss. Should we let Ellen watch that?” (Ellen would’ve been five at the time.) And my mom said, “What’s wrong with two women loving each other?” So I decided she was right, and that love is love.

    My mom always had this way of influencing me, which is about as odd as it seems. One time I slugged my brother on his back out of anger, and my mom, from the front seat of the car, said, “Don’t hit your brother. He doesn’t like that.” And I realized she was right, and I became committed to nonviolence. (You can’t make this stuff up.)

    Unfortunately, her critical tirades sort of polluted my thinking in every other way. “What’s wrong with that person? He/she’s X years old already and should have life together by now,” and so on, and so forth. Mother believes people should have their lives together by X date.

    Other influences… hmm… I don’t know. Probably all the family-oriented television I watched as a kid influenced me into wanting togetherness and happy relationships. For many years, it was a vicarious fantasy through television and books, but now I actually have such great friends (shout-out!) and I couldn’t be happier.

    Hmm…. well, religion. My mom took me to her Episcopalian church as a little girl so she could show me off in my pretty dresses–you know, the gaudy type they don’t make anymore, and for good reason. She had many friends from said church, and I don’t know if she ever told them she’s actually an atheist…? But at any rate, she wanted to expose me to religion should I latch onto it, and interestingly, I did, but in my own ways that other religious people tend to frown upon. I’m half-religious and half-spiritual, and religious people think this is wrong somehow, but I guess that’s okay.

    Very interesting!!

    1. That’s very interesting that there’s been a mix of good and bad from your mom.

      I wonder how much of church-going in days gone by was about the social aspect rather than necessarily the religious, especially for women.

      1. Episcopalians are very open-minded and not too religiously strict. I have to say that they’re one of my fave religious groups for that reason. They’re friendly, welcoming, and don’t preach anything negative or hurtful. (I absolutely hate it when churches do that.) Like, I’m sure my mom’s friends would stlll love her if she were to admit to her atheism. And they should! Even at church, we should have freedom of religion, you know, but it’s the one place where we often don’t. I used to hate being preached to at the Southern Baptist church, which was nextdoor to the Episcopalian one. There, they’d tell me it’s wrong to believe in reincarnation, and it’s wrong to believe we become angels when we die. (Another girl asked the angels question and got yelled at. While I don’t believe we become angels, I have no issue whatsoever with someone wanting to believe that, and I was appalled.) Thanks for tolerating my rambling, I must be in a thoughtful mood today!! 😮

  8. Religion helped provide clarity. The role of communication through marriage, responsibility of authority as a parent, and the significance of community through volunteering.

      1. I’m surprised you could find a connection because I realised that almost nothing in my comment had a direct relation to my worldview, which was so my bad. I can see where I was going with it too, but feel like I can barely put it into words 😅

        Something about the bigger picture and how everything moves in relation to those aspects.

  9. Growing up in and observing many other dysfunctional families had me thinking “Why do people do the things they do” from a young age. It certainly influenced how I saw families and what I wanted from my own family – when I had it. Yet I still walked into a relationship with someone like my dad, and let him stomp all over me.

    Mum wasn’t into religion, she only made us go to Salvation Army on Sundays cos we got fed there and she wasn’t into politics. I never actually became interested in too much until I studied to become a mental health nurse i.e. psychology, sociology, sciences and so on. But once I started to love learning, I couldn’t stop.

    1. It’s fascinating how we can absorb the unhealthy bits and then enact them later on without even realizing it.

      And that’s such a great feeling to find the subject area that ignites passion to learn.

      1. It is quite fascinating, you’re right Ashley! And yes, I was hooked on learning after Uni and even tho’ I can’t work now, I love to keep learning about mental health, emotions, psychology, sociology…… lol 🙂

      1. It definitely is. You realise when you travel how culture affects your mentality. I remember when I was in college and there were times that my friends and I could not relate to Americans. We had different world views because of where we came from and how we were raised.

  10. So much of my worldview, I think, came from the fact that spending all day at a library was one of my escapes from the rest of life in Hell. I read pretty much everything in my school’s library, though, oddly, because I wasn’t one if the kids my school though was “smart”, I first got pushback for that. And, I remember really wanting things like ghosts to be real and being so disappointed when the “evidence” for them in the “nonfiction” books on the supernatural was so thin. But, meh, with no active guidance and a natural ND way of putting together ideas differently from others, I guess only a more skeptical, scientific approach ever made sense. I’m pretty sure I developed most of my moral system from reading a bunch of history books (including ones any normal family would probably think are too “mature” in themes for the age I read them.)

    This is both why child me already had a plan for how she’d have to handle a pandemic like 1918 (because *of course* I assumed we’d have one in my lifetime), but probably also why I absorbed that being “moral” usually means being well ahead of most of society in its time. The side of right is rarely the most popular side. (See especially, how the 9th Circle of Hell enthusiastically went for Trump in its electoral voting last night!) Knowing how much *not* being restricted from reading about what humans are truly capable of – at their best and at their worst – shaped me, it’s hard to imagine ever restricting any hypothetical future child’s reading or watching to “age appropriate.” But, here’s hoping that when they read those big treatises on history at eight themseves that Partner and I are there to hold Hypothetical Future Child’s hand afterward and remind them it’s not *their* job to come up with our Apocalypse plan. It’s *our* job. *That part*, at least, will hopefully be different. Being a kid having to manage the running of my family, effectively, (because even as a kid I could see things would go off the rails if I didn’t!) is *definitely* not something I would ever want for Hypothetical Future Child.

  11. Wow – I would go through all of these point by point, all the way from “Growing Up” to “Values” — but that would be an extremely long comment. So I guess I’ll focus on the scientific method, which I also believe in. I tried to express some of this in my column about how some people won’t wear masks on religious grounds, because they see science as “opposed to religion.” Of course, I don’t believe that. It evidences a shallow view both of science and of religion.

    I also suspect that your allegiance to the objectivity of the scientific method flavors your acceptance of religion from a detached standpoint, though you yourself are not religious. That’s relatively rare, in my experience. Finally, I really like this statement: “Science doesn’t always get it right, but I like that the process is about always.” That’s what I like about the scientific method.

  12. Parents: everyone is in it for themselves, even if they tell you otherwise. And everyone is out to get us. This made us pretty paranoid and negative.

    Traumas: these experiences confirmed parent’s paranoia for a long time—decades. We had/have anger and blame along with the fear.

    Spouse: through example showed us what Unconditional love looks like.

    College: undergrad showed us there were many worldviews. Grad school revealed we are social relativist/constructionist. We see almost everything as a human-made construct

    Parenting: hard as fuck to parent. Still challenging preset beliefs and remaking how we see the world.

    Reading: as you know, Ash, we’ve been studying non-violent Communication, which is also referred to as needs-based relating. We now see people as made of the same stuff with the same universal needs. We need to see the world this way to survive. We aren’t committed to making others see it this way. We welcome it, but we know our views are shaped by all our experiences and we don’t think we know better than others.

    Religion: we were raised a religion that we disavow. We’re won’t affiliate with a religion or a political party. We find religions (and political parties) are confident to a fault (we’re right, you’re wrong) and paternalistic (at the top of most religions, who is making the rules? men.).

    Values: our quest to live gently is our truest value. We suck at doing it, and we keep reading, studying, practicing, and trying.

    Magic energy: we believe in the energies you can’t easily see and measure. Our experience is that these exist. Not any specific system (chakras or crystals, etc., though we don’t critique any of those). We have read people’s thoughts, we have seen miracles, we think energy is not understood. We don’t need to figure it out or do anything with it, but—for us—it is there. It is hopeful and mysterious and magical to some of us

    Mental health: we have lots of diagnoses. We don’t understand depression. Never have. Consequently, it slowly kills us. We don’t understand DID, so it slowly erodes our sanity if we have any. Our experience is disjointed. We are fucked up by most measures. And so what anyway? We lived enough life.

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