Meaning systems. We all have them; we all interpret situations and events in our own way, but what formed them? Why do I see a certain situation differently than the person next to me? Reading McGuire’s chapter two made me think about my own meaning system and how it was formed. McGuire discusses how each individual’s meaning system is learned from socialization, especially through religion. It is important to have a meaning system in order to define or find answers to things we don’t comprehend. Meaning systems help us define things such as death, poverty, illness, and other misfortunes. McGuire goes on to describe groups that all have one meaning system, or people who, for their whole lives, only surround themselves with those who share similar views. She describes these groups as “plausibility structures” and gives examples of religion in parts of Latin America where, “Most people spend their daily lives solely in the company of people who share major elements of their worldview” (38). This baffles me. I believe that we would all grow if we surround ourselves with people who think, see, and believe differently than us. I find it more beneficial for people to surround themselves with others who think differently in order to learn different views than to just stick with what they know and not expand outside of that.
I grew up in a devoted Catholic home and attended a Catholic high school where students did not need to be religious nor be specifically Catholic to attend. One might think that going to a religious school with the beliefs and meaning system that I already agreed with would cause my points of view to remain limited, but this is the opposite of what happened. Because my school accepted all religious backgrounds, I learned from many others with different meaning systems than those that I knew. This allowed me to grow as a person both in my religious views and in my evolving meaning system. Now in my life, I like to surround myself and talk with those who think differently than I do. I will admit that I am closest with those who have similar values as me, but when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter if someone has different political or religious views, because as long as they respect mine, I will respect theirs too. These are the people from whom we learn most. We cannot learn from those who already know what we know and see life as we do. We must expand, go outside of what we know, and go outside of our comfort zones so we may grow. Once this is achieved, I believe we will prosper.