Of course, not all Paradigm Shifts are instantaneous. Unlike my instant insight on the subway, the paradigm-shifting experience Sandra and I had with our son was a slow, difficult, and deliberate process. The approach we had first taken with him was the outgrowth of years of conditioning and experience in the personality ethic. It was the result of deeper paradigms we held about our own success as parents as well as the measure of success of our children. And it was not until we changed those basic paradigms, quantum change in ourselves and in the situation.
Our Paradigms are the way we “see” the world or circumstances — not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, and interpreting. Paradigms are inseparable from character. Being is seeing in the human dimension. And what we see is highly interrelated to what we are. We can’t go very far to change our seeing without simultaneously changing our being, and vice versa.
Even in my apparently instantaneous paradigm-shifting experience that morning on the subway, my change of vision was a result of — and limited by — my basic character. I’m sure there are people who, even suddenly understanding the true situation, would have felt no more than a twinge of regret or vague guilt as they continued to sit in embarrassed silence beside the grieving, confused man. On the other hand, I am equally certain there are people who would have been far more sensitive in the first place, who may have recognized that a deeper problem existed and reached out to understand and help before I did.