#1 CU: The ability to identify and understand multiple paradigms, does not challenge the paradigm we hold if it doesn’t align with our individual values, or call for reason.
At the end of last year’s softball season, the team was informed that we would be retracting our participation from the annual SEASAC event as it was hosted at an international school in Yangon, Myanmar. The country, packed with a myriad of different ethnic groups, has been under international attention since late 2017 for the ongoing atrocities committed against the Rohingya minority group through the local military’s large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing. The climate in Myanmar opened up discussion and debate within the College over whether it was appropriate for staff, students and supporting parents to visit Myanmar. Looking back at the situation, I am able to highlight certain paradigms that arose. The values that outline the culture and attitudes of the UWC movement were interpreted various ways, lending itself as closely to remaining engaged as it does to standing up against atrocity. In short, there was not one standing definition as what was the ‘correct’ thing to do.The first is a very egocentric paradigm which showcased a sense of close mindedness towards the other perspectives simply because their own desires were jeopardized. This paradigm was concerned with the short term, individual consequences and believed that participating in the trip would not affect or help the Rohingya crisis diminish. The individual’s background and cultural upbringing may have influenced them to develop a paradigm which reasoned for personal gain over communal or societal gain. Personally I interpreted this paradigm as saying “no matter what we do our actions won’t make a difference to the greater issue.” The second Paradigm held was one that believed to see change we must set the example, and was more of a utilitarian perspective (the desire to withhold from travelling to Myanmar was the more favourable perspective within the international UWC community). Individuals with this second paradigm were still able to understand and empathise with those who held the first, but were not challenged to switch paradigms as the basis of which that paradigm was justified on was not aligned to what they valued.
#2 CU: Not all paradigms are equally valid, as it a paradigm requires logical consistency even when challenged with new arguments.