What a Paradigm Shift Feels Like

You want to shift out of the paradigm of Western culture’s human-nature relationship, and into the paradigmatic way Indigenous people see this relationship. But your efforts to do this have gotten high-centered. That’s because the paradigm shift you’re trying to achieve is a lot bigger than you realize, so you’re not opening yourself nearly big enough to get hold of it. Granted, some paradigms are of limited scope, so shifting into them doesn’t take much effort. That type doesn’t have much meaningful impact either. But the paradigm that manifests as the deep connection between Indigenous people and the natural world is an entirely different ontological reality from the one Western culture has taught you to see. So the paradigm shift you’re trying to accomplish is going to be a sudden shift in your perception of reality itself. And because the paradigm is so big, this shift has a lot of potential impact on the important work you’re doing.

This page uses an epistemic part of the Indigenous paradigm you’re trying to understand: Story. In Indigenous worldview, Story is recognized as a powerful means of Knowledge transmission. Story transmits Knowledge in Western worldview too, but it’s considered “second class” compared to Intellectual ways of knowing — even though its power is the engine that drives the publication, film, and videogame industries. I’ve put little film clips, occasional images, and some written stories here and there throughout this work because Story is such an effective way of transmitting or sharing a learning experience. In this case, I don’t think any narrative text can convey the real magnitude of the paradigm shift you’re trying to make. Only Story can do that. And if you don’t know how big it is, you’ll never lift your eyes far enough to see it.

The video clip below, from the beginning of the 1993 film Jurassic Park, depicts a major paradigm shift with a magnitude comparable to the one you’re trying to make. Fortunately, you don’t have to make your big shift as suddenly as the people in this Story do, because theirs is the type that arrives via an unexpected event. Yours, by comparison, has landed in your lap because the old paradigm has fallen apart. But, like you, these people go through their paradigm shift in a step-wise process. Your process will be spaced out over a longer period of time, but you’ll also have more control over its speed. That’s one reason this paper is laid out the way it is, is to give you control over what you see, in how much detail, and how rapidly.

This movie accurately tells us what to expect from a truly major paradigm shift because people do have this kind of experience. The writers, actors, and director can remember that experience and then write it into, or act it out in, a film. Any time people successfully transmit information in a Story that’s told in any way — written, spoken, filmed, or computer game — some kind of learning takes place. This is true even if none of the people involved is consciously aware of what’s taught or learned, but only felt moved to “tell a story” or receive it.

Paradigm shifts in Jurassic Park. 1993. Steven Spielberg, Director. Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen, Producers. Michael Crichton and David Koepp, Writers. Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment. Images used under Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107

Please play the clip, think about how it depicts a paradigm shift, and then read my analysis here. You may want to watch the clip again after that, with stages of a paradigm shift in mind.

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