Subverting the dominant paradigm?


A phrase jumped out at me in a recent radio broadcast, reportedly seen on a car bumper sticker years ago – “Subvert the Dominant Paradigm”.

The person who placed the sticker on their car, way back when, may have been targeting the dominant paradigm of that day.  But, what if it was a call to identify today’s dominant way of thinking and go subvert it – whatever day today might be?  A perpetual call to subversion.

Subvert is a very strong word – it means to ruin, undermine, corrupt, destroy completely.  But I suppose that’s considered appropriate by some if the aim is to remove something from dominance.  Generally speaking, the dominant position equates with power.  That means unseating today’s paradigm is going to take a great deal of effort.

Unfortunately, this slogan is creating so much havoc around our world today.  Lots of attempts at change … some successful, some not so.  Yet, I cannot sit here and advocate the status quo if it’s keeping people poor, sick and devalued.

Does the slogan need a few more words?  After identifying the dominant way of thinking, we then assess it against some alternatives.  If, and only if, an alternative will build a better world for more people, then we change how we think.  But even as I wrote that sentence, I grappled with my fear that this is how fundamentalist religions, of all persuasions, operate; each tends to think it has the monopoly on the better alternative and strives to occupy the dominant position wherever and whenever they can.

So, what’s my latest jigsaw got to do with dominant paradigms?

It was a reminder that dominant ways of thinking aren’t confined to the big problems.  Each day, we all face hiccups and potholes of various sizes.  To create a better world for ourselves, we need to identify and change those personal ways of thinking that keep knocking us off our feet.

My jigsaw board is only so big.  I usually check the measurements on the side of the box before handing over my money.  So, I was rather annoyed when I realised that this one didn’t fit.  Turns out, the box shows two sets of measurements, only one of which is correct.  Dodgy quality control by the manufacturer.

The point of completing a jigsaw puzzle is the act of COMPLETING the jigsaw puzzle; that moment when the last piece is put into place.  That’s the dominant paradigm in the puzzle word.  A puzzle is to be solved, finished, completed.

In response to by inability to complete the puzzle, in my inability to conform to the dominant paradigm, I decided instead to value add.  The puzzle is incomplete, but I’ve created a photo that I like and let the situation trigger some thoughts about my view of the world … and written this blog post.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be about dominance and subversion, after all.  The slogan was wrong.

Perhaps instead it could be about consensus and value adding?

What are your thoughts?

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