Research carried out by Carrie James at the Harvard Graduate School of Education has found that many young people make troubling decisions—ranging from bullying and privacy invasion to plagiarism and hateful speech—that reflect a disconnect with norms of decency and civility. Take bullying as an example. While the tragic stories of Amanda Todd, Tyler Clementi and many others reflect the personal toll such behaviour causes, they also prompt questions. Why do bullies decide to torment others? What factors lead them to make these terrible decisions?
How individuals see the world impacts how they make choices in the world. As such, if an individual has a worldview that is prone to conflict, they are likely to make decisions in a manner that is prone to conflict. Similarly, if you have a worldview that is conducive to peace, you are likely to make decisions that foster peace.
Here are three observations about decision-making:
- Decision-making is developmental: We make decisions in different ways at different stages in our lives. This is because ‘growth’, ‘change’, or ‘development’ is a universal law of life.
- We develop at the level of consciousness: Our consciousness and worldview changes as we grow and develop. A worldview is like a pair of glasses—a lens through which we see the world. Like glasses, our worldview affects what we see, and as a result the choices we make. Glasses might make us see the world as blurry or clear, or tinted to a particular color. The ways we make decisions reflect our worldviews. Some worldviews lead to conflict-oriented decision-making while others result in peace-oriented decision-making.
- Humanity collectively develops: Another facet of growth and development is collective growth and collective change—this is a framework for thinking about the change and development that humanity goes through as a whole.
Based on these three points we can describe a developmental model of decision-making: What is your worldview? What worldview is reflected in Facebook’s famous “move fast and break things” motto? Or Wikipedia’s “assumed good faith” principle that it requires its community of contributors to abide by? What does decision-making look like when is it based on a peace-oriented or unity-oriented worldview?