We have purpose: to be active and responsible citizens. We have knowledge: the search for truth both from our world and within ourselves. Now, we also have a core: worldviews that anchor us to our best selves in our best imagining.
Why all this focus on worldview? Well first, it brings clarity. Knowing what kind of world one want to see makes clear what kind of political action we need. Imagining that better America gives us a built-in BS detector: we want real plans for achieving things, and we can see the evidence through the listening that we do.
Second, and more important, is the fact that a successful, sustainable worldview removes our own personal desires from the equation. This prevents the politics of selfishness, which corrodes and degrades consensus and decency. When we cease to think of politics only in terms of ourselves, we find that we can find agreement with our ideological foes much more easily. It also means that we’re not as susceptible to falsehood and corruption. Untruths percolate in politics because it feels better to believe them, because they validate our own narratives about how good we are, or how bad our opponents are. But a strong worldview built for sustaining others has no use for lies. Misstatements and deliberate distortion won’t help us build something bigger than ourselves. Corruption is about seeking for ourselves first, without regard to consequences. It becomes a lot harder to engage in that kind of corruption when we try to build according to our worldview and not from our personal circumstances.
That does not mean that we consider policy and politics with no regard to ourselves. Our own perspectives are powerful forces in building a worldview. As an example, my own worldview is drawn from my life as a New Yorker, a lover of history and art, and as a black woman. I believe in what I think of as “sustainable opportunity.” I want to build a world in which everyone can push to the furthest extent of their talents, regardless of where they were born or to whom. To me, it’s on government (We, the People, specifically) to create and sustain an environment that maximizes the chances of every child reaching their potential, and so I vote and stay active on issues that fulfill that worldview. Would the world I imagine have made my life easier? Probably! Is it a reflection of my personal struggles and victories? Absolutely! Is it about getting something for myself? No. I want to help make this world possible even if I don’t get to enjoy it. In fact, it is because I haven’t experienced my worldview that makes me so intent on creating it for those who follow behind me.
So close your eyes, imagine a world, and ask not for yourself. What do you see?