Whether we want to admit it or not, we, as individuals and groups, live under certain paradigms. What is a paradigm? According to Abacus News, "A PARADIGM in our daily lives is a particular philosophy of life or a framework of ideas, beliefs and values through which our community or an individual interprets the world and interacts with it." Our paradigm influences our actions and interactions with those around us.
Can our paradigms shift or change? Sure! I know my partners and mine have shifted throughout the years. 20 years ago, I only believed in monogamy. Then, 14 years ago, I started to believe that polygamy was indeed a biblical concept that could be for me. I began to accept it, and I even lived it, but did not fully embrace it until later. However, my paradigm shifting did not stop there. Later, I began to shift to a belief in polyamory in general. My shift in paradigm was not something forced upon me by my community or church; in fact, it was in spite of them. My specific community and old church is extremely against poly in any form.
My former family and friends disowned me and isolated me because they are still, and may always be, in a monogamy paradigm. Since I am in a polyamory paradigm, I am alien to them, and some how I threaten their belief system. Since they cannot balance mine with theirs, they have to force me out. Now, unlike them, I do not find it necessary to exclude others because they are in a different paradigm than me, but obviously, my paradigm makes them extremely uncomfortable even though I am NOT trying to convert them over to mine or to persuade them that mine is better.
As we shift over to other paradigms though, it is important for us to realize that others will feel threatened by our new paradigm even though this seems irrational to us. Because our new paradigm will make others feel threatened, we need to realize that these people might take negative actions toward us for our new beliefs.
It reminds me of Galileo when he taught Copernicanism, which stated that the sun was the center of the universe and not the Earth. Until that point, geocentricism was a firmly held belief: the paradigm of the day. The Roman Catholic church called Galileo in to be examined by the Holy Office of the Inquisition, and they found him to be a heretic for his Copernicanist teachings. They demanded him and forced him to recant. He was placed under house arrest for the remainder of his life for believing in something that was indeed true. Thankfully, today, the church here in the US does not have this much power, but they still have some form of power. My former church when I became a polygamist excommunicated us and told all of its members not to talk to us at all or they too would be removed from their ministries and/or excommunicated from the church as well. So we received a public shaming like in The Scarlet Letter. And why? Because we became poly. We chose to believe differently than them, so they chose to reject and isolate us.
In an ideal world, we could all remain friends and family even though we have different beliefs. However, this is not an ideal world, and most people are not tolerant of others who believe differently. People tend to surround themselves with other people who believe the same as they do and to reject others who do not share the same paradigm.
It feels strange to think that I once believed that love was limited to one person that human beings were only capable of having one intimate relationship at a time. I now know that human beings are capable of loving more than one person at a time, just like parents can love more than one child at a time.
I am still in the process of shifting over totally to a polyamorous paradigm. As a woman in the US and a former conservative Christian, I find it more difficult for me to accept for myself that I can have more than one male intimate partner, but at the same time, I struggle with the questions, "Why are only men allowed to have multiple loving relationships? What makes men more special than us women?" At the same time, I have no issues with other women having multiple partners, just me. I wonder if this is a religious paradigm that is hard for me to break, or if this is a psychological paradigm within myself that makes me believe that I am unworthy of such a variety of love in my life based upon former relationships and abuses. Which ever the case, I am determined to break the hold either of them have on me, not because I want or need another male relationship, but because I need to free myself from negativity.
I have always heard that change is necessary for growth, and I know change is very difficult for many people to accept. Paradigms are about change, changing our beliefs and the way we live based upon those beliefs. I find the more my paradigms change the more I love myself because I grow into a better loving person. How about you?