Several years ago I heard the word paradigm for the first time and hadn’t a clue what it meant; glad I took the time to learn this one. A friend explained how he’d observed a woman and her out of control children on a train while on his way to work. The woman seemed oblivious to the fact that her children were misbehaving and, by appearance, were unkempt to say the least. My friend came to the opinion that the woman needed to do more than simply sit staring off into space, her children making everyone on the train miserable.
He was about to give the woman a piece of his mind when something from within told him to hold his tongue, approaching her and noticing that tears were dripping down her cheek. He asked if he could help, not knowing what may have happened to cause her to break down in public.
She handed him her toddler to hold without looking up, wiping away her tears. It was then she explained how her husband had been in an accident earlier in the morning. She’d rushed to the hospital, taking the children without having time to give them a bath or feed them properly. She wondered aloud, unintelligibly most of the time, how to cope with all of it; figure a way to support the family until he got out of the hospital, take care of the children and everything else that had come crashing down on her.
It was at that moment he saw life from her perspective. He found it in his heart to gather the other children and have them sit close to their mother, all the while continuing to hold the toddler and reassure the mother that everything would work out. He reached into his wallet and handed her his business card and enough money to buy groceries. He’d had a change of attitude, a paradigm shift. He no longer saw her as negligent; rather she was someone who needed help and compassion.
Paradigm - the generally accepted perspective of a particular discipline at a given time…
Applications of the term in other contexts show that it can sometimes be used more loosely to mean “the prevailing view of things.”
FoxNews had a headline story on their website this afternoon, House May Bolt Early, Abandoning Work Schedule to Campaign Season . The opening line read:
“Just days after returning from a five-week break and with a mere 16 days before a new budget year begins, House lawmakers are mulling whether to bolt Washington a week earlier than planned so they can work on saving their own jobs.”
That, my friends, is “the prevailing view of things” in Washington; our Congressmen are more concerned with keeping their cushy jobs than in serving the public. I shouldn’t complain too loudly, we’re probably better off when Congress is out of session and they aren’t destroying what’s left of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Compare “the prevailing view of things” inside the Beltway today with sentiments expressed by George Washington in his Farewell Address to the nation in 1796. I was tempted to copy and paste the entire text; it being difficult to exclude any part of Washington’s carefully worded admonitions and concerns for this newly created union of states.
“Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.”
Washington didn’t see elected office as a job with a matching salary; it was his sacred duty, service to his fellow citizens which came with a tremendous weight of worthiness, an eternal bond having been forged with liberty loving people. Washington was torn between his knowledge that much needed to be done while at the same time recognizing someone other than himself should perform that service as he addressed his fellow citizens.
Can you picture George Washington abandoning his duties and responsibilities just to get re-elected? The idea is nearly as preposterous as believing our current crop of elected representatives would lay down their lives to preserve our constitutional protections, to insure inalienable God given rights uniformly and without exception for all individuals. How many of our current Congressmen would stand up for virtue and morality with their last mortal breath, their sacred honor tested in service to their country?
Now you have a better understanding of “the prevailing view of things”. Please make your vote count this next time around; who knows, maybe there are still a few folks willing to turn the paradigm around to where it ought to be. At one time I’d have given you my two cents worth; but inflation has raised the stakes, now it will cost you a pair of dimes.
This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.