What is the connection paradigm? First, I’ll explain what I mean by “paradigm”. A paradigm is a shared reality, co-created by its participants. A culture or a society has certain values and filters that are imposed by default on its members; a paradigm is the same sort of thing but on an even more basic level. Paradigm is almost invisible to most people these days, because there’s only one dominant paradigm right now. People know of the existence of multiple cultures, but almost all of these cultures are within the dominant paradigm. This makes paradigm a pretty tricky thing to talk about and point at, so I’ll try to be more concrete.
The dominant paradigm in today’s world is the control paradigm. There are pervasive assumptions of control throughout all major cultures and throughout all aspects of life. Businesses seek to dominate the market and crush the competition. Farmers seek to isolate their crops from “outside” influences and engineer their genes for maximum yield. Governments seek power over their people. Jealous lovers seek to control their mates. Marketers seek to convince others to buy their products. Bosses seek to manage their resources, thereby keeping control of those “under” them. Parents raise their children. Political groups fight for their rights. Scientists seek to harness Nature. All these words are control words. What is a harness? It’s a device you put on an animal to better control it. Many of these words have positive connotations, but if you take a closer look at them you’ll see that they are all rooted in the control paradigm.
The control paradigm is so ubiquitous, it’s hard to see around the blinders of its assumptions. But imagine with me for a while, and let’s see where we can go. Imagine a world like this. Businesses care about their customers and want to help them. Farmers grow food in harmony with the surrounding ecosystem. Governments seek to serve their people. Lovers love their mates. Marketers seek permission to offer their products to those who might be helped by them. Workers seek to support their co-workers. Parents nurture their children. These words are connection words. The connection paradigm is an alternative to the control paradigm.
“But you’re describing a fantasy world,” you might argue. Well, it might seem so now, since the control paradigm is currently dominant. But even a small step toward the connection paradigm will help make the world a better place, so even if you don’t agree with all aspects of what I’m saying, maybe we can each do a little bit to help out in our own way.
The connection paradigm is all about connection instead of control. Connection with others and connection with ourselves. Isolation is a control paradigm value because we are more easily controlled when we are isolated. But we are lonely. We desperately want to connect with others, but in the control paradigm, the ways in which we are allowed to connect are very limited. We have also become disconnected from ourselves. We numb our minds with TV, video games, and drugs, and we lose connection with our hearts. Seeking therapy is seen as an embarrassing weakness that you have a problem that needs to be fixed, instead as a commendable effort toward self-improvement. We’re stuck in the control paradigm because we don’t know a better way to be. Well, I don’t have all the answers (I don’t think there is one right answer), but I intend to ask some pretty good questions that might inspire you and that might get you thinking. Keep reading this blog if you’re interested in our thoughts and ideas about how to make the world a better place.