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What Is A Cultural Paradigm?

Last updated on July 17, 2020

What Is A Cultural Paradigm?

The human brain is a very complex machine that even the smartest among us don’t understand.

Did you know the brain processes 0.1 quadrillion instructions per second? That’s everything from blood circulation and balance to breathing and how to fry an egg.

Given its workload, it’s no wonder that the brain created “shortcuts” over time. For example:

  • Habits. At 3 pm I have to drink coffee.
  • Thought Patterns. Government officials are not to be trusted.
  • Classical Conditioning. I don’t eat fish because one time it made me sick.

Whether it’s coffee, the government or fish, my brain does not waste its precious time considering the validity or logic of my behavior. It observed a pattern and filed that pattern away as truth, no questions asked.

Shortcut can be swapped out here with the word auto-pilot.

And auto-pilot is another word for unconscious.

I don’t need coffee everyday at 3 pm and I can absolutely eat fish without getting sick.

But when we don’t bring consciousness to our thought patterns and habits — we become them.

Could it be that the brain’s knack for efficiency risks turning humans into unthinking drones?

Understanding Paradigms

A paradigm is a theory about how something should be done, made or thought about.

Similar to habits and thought patterns, we know that paradigms aren’t based on facts, and yet we still interpret them to be true.

One way to explain paradigms is through a personal paradigm. I invented someone named Kevin to illustrate:

Kevin lives in a bad neighborhood, his mom is an alcoholic and he doesn’t know his dad. At around 12 years old, his brain took in his surroundings and formed Kevin’s personal paradigm: I’m poor, from a broken home and will never make it out of the projects. I’ll probably sell drugs then end up in jail. 

Kevin’s brain created his identity that Kevin now believes to be true.

But part of being a free human is disjointing you (heart and soul) from the machine (brain).

In order for Kevin to disassociate himself from his false personal paradigm, he must first become aware of it:

By 16 years old Kevin is skipping school, getting into trouble and even spent a few nights in jail. One day in a store Kevin randomly meets a clothing designer and their conversation makes his heart swell. He feels a rush of excitement and intense curiosity to learn more about fashion and making clothes.

What Kevin discovered in this moment is called an authentic desire (to design clothes).

This is a defining point in Kevin’s life because his authentic desire will expose his false personal paradigm:

How will I become a clothing designer if my destiny is to end up in jail? 

It may take years but Kevin will understand his “identity” was never based on facts. Nothing is stopping him from being whoever he wants to be.

Kevin learned that in life we have options, identity is a choice and the brain makes mistakes.

Related Reading: What is Spiritual Healing?

How to Be Your Authentic Self

As mentioned, the brain creates personal paradigms to save itself time.

Imagine if every morning you woke up and spent time forming your identity.

Should I be assertive and blunt today? Should I be a doting wife to my husband today? I think I’ll be a comedian today!

Reinventing yourself that often jeopardizes the billions of other tasks for which the brain is responsible.

But the spirit of the idea is excellent.

In fact, it is the moral obligation of every human to align with his soul, recognize its authentic desires, and honor them.

People get so stuck in their daily routines, habits and thought patterns — that they forget life and identity is 100% malleable.

And lucky for us, humans possess hearts that pave the way to our truth. I say this because authentic desires stem from the heart, not the brain. The brain is a machine that only has thoughts and is not capable of feelings. To highlight the difference:

  • Kate longs to be a mother and can feel this desire deep in her chest.
  • Sarah wants to be a mother because she thinks it will bring her closer to her husband.

The soul feels desires seemingly out of nowhere and having no motive.

The brain thinks of desires and formulates how they can serve a purpose in that person’s life.

So whatever your authentic desire is, it’s imperative you express it in order to contribute to the evolution of humanity.

Some souls love to dance, bake, build companies, be parents, design clothes or write.

Are you expressing your soul’s authentic desire in life?

Related Reading: How to Connect with Spirit Guides

What is a Cultural Paradigm?

And this brings me to cultural paradigms.

We’ve established that the brain is busy and in order to save time, it often fails to analyze the accuracy of our worldviews, motivations, habits and beliefs.

Up until now, we’ve talked about how this phenomenon impacts us on a personal level.

But entire populations hold unconscious collective beliefs, called cultural paradigms.

Cultural paradigms are theories of how something should be thought about — but in a slight twist from personal paradigms — the purveyors of cultural paradigms benefit from their adoption.

For example, no one benefits from you believing you are unworthy because you didn’t go to college (personal paradigm).

But what if you believe the sun orbits the Earth?

Who benefits from that?

If this was 500 years ago, the answer would be the Catholic Church.

Humans used to think the Sun orbited the Earth until Galileo presented heliocentric evidence to the Catholic Church proving otherwise.

This scientific discovery was groundbreaking and the world deserved to know the truth.

But nope.

The Catholic Church feared the public would question why the almighty church didn’t already know the Earth orbited the Sun. If it came out that scientists knew more about how the world worked than religious leaders, the Catholic Church would risk losing its power over the people.

So it banned Galileo’s publication for 200 years and stole the truth from all of humankind.

Cultural paradigms are shared beliefs that an authoritative person or group wants the public to think is true in order for them to benefit personally.

And nothing has changed in 500 years.

Related Reading: Legalization of Weed: Pros and Cons

Cultural Paradigm Examples

Believing the Sun orbits the Earth does not hold individuals back in life on a personal level.

But some cultural paradigms do, which is why I want you to learn to recognize them.

Remember, our obligation in life is to align with our souls and express ourselves authentically.

How do we do that when cultural paradigms keep us busy, bury us in debt or have us chasing other peoples’ definition of success?

Below are three historic cultural paradigm examples.

Can you imagine being a woman in the 1700’s and feeling a deep desire to shape politics in the newly formed United States of America?

Good luck with that! 

Cultural Paradigm Purveyor/Beneficiary
Black people are inferior to white people. Enslaving them is fine. Slave owners
Fat causes heart attacks. Eat low-fat processed foods instead. Sugar industry
Women aren’t equal to men, and thus their place is in the home. Men

Many cultural paradigms today are just as nefarious. Consider who benefits and who suffers from the following modern-day cultural paradigms:

A College Degree is Key to Success

We are told this over and over starting in elementary school. Let’s bring awareness to the assumption:

    • You do not have to go to college to be successful
    • Not all people that go to college are successful
    • Some companies require a college degree, thousands more don’t
    • Working for someone else doesn’t build wealth. You could work 100+ hours a week and earn just a fraction of what a high school dropout makes in 4 hours because he started his own company
    • The bias in higher education yields negative results for the student and society

Who benefits from this cultural paradigm?

  • Government
    • The goal is to nationalize higher education; few colleges and universities today operate independently of the government
    • Indoctrination to the liberal mindset (focus on expanding government) happens in college
    • It looks good to have an “educated” society, even if that education is a joke
    • The Federal Student Loan program generates billions a year in profit
    • People are easier to control when they are in debt; easier to influence

Who suffers?

  • You.
    • Who has time to align with their soul and explore authentic desires and be free when you’ve been brainwashed to think “success” is working a 9-5 under fluorescent lights and contributing nothing meaningful to society?

Related Reading: The Untold Story of the Student Loan Crisis

Homeownership is the American Dream

Most homes in America are purchased using a 30-year mortgage. The cultural message is that the 30-year mortgage is an outstanding deal. Is it though?

    • You pay double for the home. If someone borrows $180,000 in May 2020 at 5% interest, they will have paid the bank a total of $347,859.84 by June 2050.
    • After 15 years of making payments, you won’t own even half “your” home. Most of your money goes towards fees and interest.

Who benefits from this cultural paradigm?

  • Government
    • Every conforming mortgage is purchased by the government and sold on secondary markets to investors for a profit
    • The government created the 30-year mortgage to encourage Americans to buy a home in another effort to nationalize another industry
    • Banks are extensions of the government and revenues and profits made from 30-year mortgages are a huge percentage of US GDP

Who suffers?

  • You
    • Too many Americans lead miserable lives because they “have bills to pay.” Usually the biggest bill of all is the mortgage
    • You’ll notice the bank always approves folks for more than they asked for — coincidence?
    • Again, it’s not easy to align with your soul and express your authentic desires when you’re shackled by debt

Related Reading: Why the 30-Year Mortgage Sucks

Investing for Retirement is Responsible

We’re told to invest in the stock market to “secure” our retirement nest eggs. Your brain accepts this as truth without considering the facts:

  • The average American knows nothing about the stock market
  • Tax rates 30 or 40 years from now are unknown, thus any “tax benefit” is a lie
  • Even in a case of emergency, you are not allowed to access your own money before the age 65
  • Wall Street always make money off your portfolio; but no such guarantee exists for you. You could retire at 65 and watch the stock market crash the next day
  • There is zero investment education taught in public schools
  • Most Americans have no idea what their retirement accounts are invested in

Who benefits from this cultural paradigm?

  • Government
    • Politicians practice corporatism, not capitalism. What better way to help your cronies than to get every American to invest in the stock market?
    • Banks are informally nationalized so when Wall Street takes a cut of your paycheck every month, so does the government
    • Social Security failed
    • The less money in your pocket today, the more dependent on the government you become

Who suffers?

  • You
    • If an employer offers a match, or you want to open a Roth IRA — investing for retirement makes sense — but beyond that, don’t take the bait. The stock market post-2008 is skyrocketing due to on loose monetary policy, not because the world is thriving. Plus, why bank your future on something you don’t understand? Take your money and buy real estate or land or invest in YOURSELF by starting a business or traveling the world. Settle up with the government on taxes today, don’t risk it by hoping taxes are lower by the time you retire. Use common sense and build wealth in ways that work for you, not for multinational corporations and slimy politicians.

Related Reading: History of Retirement: Why we Invest in Stocks

What is a Cultural Paradigm? Conclusion. 

This article was meant to show how complex the brain is and how often it takes the lazy way out.

It’s sad to meet folks who haven’t discovered the magic of being human. Humans, especially Americans, can be whoever we want and shape our lives however we please.

But if someone limits himself on a personal level (personal paradigm), it’s almost impossible to prove they are being controlled on a mass level (cultural paradigm).

Too many of us have fallen for the trap government set out and can’t figure out why they aren’t happy.

How do we as a society stand by and let kids go into debt for $50,000 at just 18 years old? This is immoral and no one is talking about it.

One of my best friends just bought a home she can’t afford because the bank approved her for more than she asked to borrow. Is she dumb? Yes. Is it totally her fault? No.

Our culture, when we don’t stop to analyze our actions, is one that rewards conformity. If everyone is taking out a 30-year mortgage and investing their net worth in the stock market — then it’s probably fine, right?

Consciousness is on the rise. More and more of us are embracing spirituality, practicing self-awareness, understanding our triggers, our fears, etc.

But we have to keep digging.

The same manipulation our brains have over our personal lives, our handlers (government) have over our brains.

Their motive is rooted in greed and control and the ultimate consequence is the denial of freedom for you and me.

We are born free and ARE free, but cultural paradigms have blinded us to the truth. Thank you for reading!

One Comment

  1. Daniel Martin Daniel Martin February 25, 2020

    Hello Elizabeth,
    I was redirecting a student towards my Master’s Thesis, ‘Understanding Cultural Paradigms’, went to google it and see what came up. Surprise! Something was posted two days ago. While we take slightly different positions and stances on cultural paradigms, we also have some things in common.
    Furthermore the differences are something that I am working on in other philosophical papers for journals.

    What I found in my research is that cultural paradigms are unstable forms of knowledge. They do not determine being, and being does not determine them. There is a play, a dialogue, which occurs between being and knowledge. We observe roles being played, encode them with a relative degree of individual bias, which creates personal programs of truth about the cultural role. Then, when cultural existence forces us to assume cultural roles, we appeal to our personal programs of truth and enact our play of roles with our own relative style. This bias and style are subjective openings into the relationship between being and knowledge. In which, as Foucault states, ‘in such a discursive form of knowledge, there is room for enunciation breaks.” Those enunciation breaks are where subjects come in and edit the knowledge, and what is done about it: bias and style. One occurs when knowledge ‘speaks’, the other occurs when being ‘speaks’, those phenomenon are the enunciations in this dialogue between being and knowledge.

    In a sense, you are right that ‘cultural paradigms’ are not objectively true. However, as we interact with them they do become subjectively treated as if they are true (personal programs of truth), as motivation for the type of actions we take to play out our cultural roles. But there is a POTENTIAL, for any subject to say, “no I don’t think that generality is true, and I am going to understand it this way and act on it this way…” Though when subjects are treated like objects, or treat themselves like objects this whole process becomes more as you have described it in this blog.

    I would say that your average persons comprehension of this play in their lives is sub par. I actually started my thesis stating it seems like ‘we use cultural paradigms constantly, but that they are so common that they have become mundane, and not one really looks into them deeply enough’. Where I disagree with you is mostly in the tone of some rhetoric about lies, and trying to control brains. I mean, in some senses you are not wrong, but I am not sure its 100% as loaded as it sounds in reading the emotional tone of your words. Though I understand anger and frustration with the world, its order, and how people play along. But that is what I am getting at about my next stage of research…

    What you describe here is true, in that cultural paradigms are forced at times, and that the populous is not well enough educated to understand any of the process of how they are coming to conclusions or how they come to take certain actions. The problem in my new stage is that, my thesis takes something for granted; it takes active subjectivity for granted. But what happens when a culture forces paradigms? Tries to act like knowledge does determine being, that because of some idea, you a person must…. It destroys the growth process of cultural evolution.

    What brings it back to life, is what Nietzsche would call ‘life affirmation’, or seizing the potential of life, of subjectivity of creativity, imagination, and individualism which all can inspire healthy changes and new growth to the project of humanity which we are all embarking on. And subsequently, on the projects of culture which are subsections to that overall project of ‘becoming human’.

    So in a sense, I understand your frustration, when we are treated like objects, really slave units for capitalistic slavery, it appears as though cultural paradigms are evil. What I am suggesting is that they are not evil, they are necessary, but best left as an overture for subjectivity, and not oppressing subjects into objects and telling them who they have the potential to become. On one last note of agreement, just so that you don’t think I am against you, but genuinely trying to sort out how this ‘seemingly mundane article of humanity’, which is critical but overlooked, and what it could mean for us if we understood it more fully, I would say that cultural paradigms do not create laziness, however, someone who is lazy will likely do do an awful job of interacting with cultural paradigms as a subject.

    Anyways, super cool that you are taking an interest in this topic, it is incredibly fascinating. If you care to see what I wrote about cultural paradigms you can view my work on my universities repository for free. The link is below. Also feel free to contact me if you wish.

    https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/83315

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