Refining Life, on Purpose

Consider the Filters That Construct Your Personal Worldview

Ever consider your worldview or the filters that made it so? Here, are some key events that - for better or worse - are defining an always on generation,

How often do you give thought to your personal worldview? I think about mine often – probably more than I should. However, that doesn’t mean it is not important, nor should it be taken lightly. As the saying goes, if you don’t stand for anything, you might fall for everything.  

While considering the concept of looking with mirrors – literally and figuratively – I think to a personal blog post I wrote in 2008.

That post was titled We Are Still Prisoners of Our Own Fear. In that post, I dissect several events that shaped – for better or worse – my generation. As a result, I am a sharer of their legacies and a teller of their stories. Also, the unique impressions and emotional connections had a strong part of molding my personal worldview.  


Also, not to undermine or diminish the enormity of their significance, I am synthesizing a key lesson or theme from each event for offering an understanding of how and why they shaped values and attitudes:

Events That Have Shaped the Personal Worldview of My Generation

Miracle on Ice (1980) 

The 1980 US Olympic Hockey team’s Soviet counterparts were natural rivals due to the decades-old Cold War. And they were all-powerful professionals as a heavy favorite to win the gold medal. So, when the US team (of amateurs) were matching against the Soviets, they had no perceived chance of winning. Only a dreamer would have considered an US win possible. But guess what, the dreamers won! Not only did they win that contest, they went on to win the gold. In their victory, they produced many new dreamers who dared to take on the odds.

The Lesson/impact: You can achieve your dreams even if it means defeating giants.

Live Aid (1985) 

“We are the world. We are the children.” Those lyrics have become synonymous with giving and helping others. An estimated 400 million viewers, across 60 countries, watched the live broadcast of a multi-venue rock music concert that took place July 13, 1985 with pretty much all of the biggest names in the music industry. Nearly 300 million dollars were raised. Oh, and our babysitter – MTV – was sure to tell us all about it!

The Lesson/impact: When we unite – and care – we can change the world.

Challenger Explosion (1986)

The US Space Shuttle Challenger mission on January 28, 1986 was supposed to be a great blend of science, education and dreams. The “Teacher in Space” program was announced a year and a half earlier by President Ronald Reagan to inspire students, honor teachers and spark interest in math, science, and space. Christa McAuliffe was on board having been the first teacher selected. She died along with the other crew members when the shuttle disintegrated 73 seconds into flight. While it was poised to make history, it forever changed history on many levels.

The Lesson/impact: Dreams are risky – but that does not mean you shouldn’t try.

Fall of the Berlin Wall (1990)

On August 13, 1961 construction of a wall began in the country of Germany to separate it into east and west divisions. It became a longtime symbol of the Cold War. Because of that division, emigration between East and West Germany halted and effectively split families. Some brave souls made attempts to cross it, but more died trying than those who were successful. In late 1989, border crossings began after an East German regime change and heavy protests. On June 13, 1990, the official dismantling of the Wall by the East German military began. Celebrations including world-famous musicians, renowned politicians and other celebrities followed.

The Lesson/impact: The old world order has fallen. Peace and prosperity has a chance.

OJ Simpson Bronco Chase (1994) 

On June 17, 1994, millions of people watched the most bizarre spectacle they’d ever viewed on television. Following the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, the Los Angeles Police Department allowed OJ Simpson to turn himself in. When he didn’t show up, police tracked down Simpson in a friend’s white Ford Bronco and a low-speed chase ensued. Soon, millions were unable to pry themselves from their televisions. Others were out on the streets watching the chase as though it were a parade.

The Lesson/impact: The rise of sensational media and a celebrity driven culture has reached a tipping point – there’s no turning back.

Death of Diana, Princess of Wales (1997) 

On August 31, 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales died following a high-speed crash that happened because of a paparazzi chase. Her passing captured tremendous public interest and endless questions of how far is too far in terms of paparazzi, news media and personal privacy.

The Lesson/impact: The death of an icon who linked two generations.

Terrorist Attacks on World Trade Center (2001)

The lives of so many changed on the morning of September 11, 2001. Terrorists had hijacked planes and used them for mass destruction in multiple locations. Beyond the utter shock of the events and the loss of lives in the process, questions of national and personal safety ensured. Individuals, employers and sports teams literally stopped.

The Lesson/impact: Allow me to introduce you to the age of terror.

Why Do The Events Make Up the Filter of My Personal Worldview?

There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that he sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow humans do not see (and I am glad!), and that he sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough). – J.I. Packer in “Knowing God” p. 42

This quote recently punched me in the face. Think of all the times you’ve veered from who and what you aspire to be and then consider that God was there to see every moment of it. You might feel downright ashamed.

Just imagine that those acts were caught on someone’s phone and posted all over social media for the world to see! Some would embrace it as their few minutes of fame. I would hope that most of us would feel shame and regret.

Our personal worldview – which is shaped partly in what we experience, is more than a fleeting thought or temporal philosophy.

Our personal worldview is the guard rail that guides our personal growth and keeps us from acting or reacting in ways that would provoke personal shame.  

Shaping the Personal Worldview of the Always On Generation

Basically, when you look at the events, you’ll see a generation that is molded to not only dream, but to pursue dreams. You’ll notice that old-world regimes are falling for all the right reasons. We are a culture that does not sit idly by and allow life to happen.

We’re instead living life and involved in it. We don’t just let it happen, we make it happen.

Technology has evolved and is evolving quickly. We see more and do more. And we do much of it openly for the world to see. In a lot of instances, this is a great thing. However, because everything is moving a such a rapid pace, it does not give us the time to pause, reflect and react like it once did.

For instance, in 1999, I bought the book, The Catcher in the Rye from Amazon.com, what was pretty much still in its infancy as the commercialization of the Internet was just getting into motion. I told one of my undergrad professors I was starting to read it. In response to that, he laughed and told me he had gotten his first copy many years ago. It was wrapped in a brown paper bag and heavily taped. The person who had secretly given it to him, said to not show anyone and never say where he had gotten it.

Years later, I used my phone to snap a photo of that book cover as it sat on a mass retailer’s bookshelf next to any other book available for sale. Previous generations would have called this act impossible.

The Years that Lie Ahead

What advances will the next generation have at their disposal that you currently think to be impossible? Will it be a good thing or a bad thing?

In our culture of immediacy, access and voyeurism (think about it), it’s important to understand who you are and what makes your personal worldview. Without that grounding, you’re leaving a lot to chance. Take some time to reflect on who you are and what you want your life to represent – today and always.

That way, no matter the circumstance, you’ll act and react in  line with your personal worldview.  

What’s had the greatest impact on your personal worldview? Was it one of these events or something different? Tell me in the comments. I’d love to hear what it was, how it shaped you and anything else you’d like to offer.

About Chad Gramling

Chad Gramling makes his home in Indiana with his wife and three daughters. He's the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories, a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win.