It’s Pentecost–time to complete the paradigm shift | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Back in college, we took a course under Fr. Tom Green, SJ (famous for his books on spirituality, his retreats and spiritual direction) on Philosophy of Science.

One of our textbooks was Thomas Kuhn’s groundbreaking “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962). In it, Kuhn talked about scientific revolutions caused by paradigm shifts. It was a shift in the framework or world view that we normally use to see and deal with reality.

The process begins when anomalies arise, and the existing paradigm can no longer explain everything going on in the system. There is a breakdown, and a new paradigm is introduced.

Kuhn cites the example of Copernicus (15th-16th centuries) whose heliocentric paradigm that places the sun at the center of the universe replaced Ptolemy’s (second century) geocentric paradigm that places the earth at the center. Thus we have the Copernican Revolution, which, only after close to a hundred years later, was completed by Galileo (16th-17th centuries). Galileo is regarded as the father of modern science.

Kuhn argues that in the crisis moment, as well as in the pre-shift and post-shift periods, the old paradigm can no longer explain everything, particularly the anomalies, and it is only with the new paradigm that one can make sense of reality.

Last Monday morning, I was watching the morning news, and the main feature was the opening of classes. As I listened to the stream of comments, some good and others bad, I noted that the complaints were the same problems we have been talking about for decades. Then I also realized that the proposals put forward were the same ones we have been raising for decades, rehashed here and there. Basically, blame the government, or more specifically, someone from the current administration; blame the budget, etc. etc.

I felt a sense of frustration—an anomaly lingering for decades. Then I recalled the paradigm shift. Yes, perhaps we are in the pre-shift stage, or maybe even the crisis moment!

Changing the course of history

Today, Pentecost Sunday, we remember one of the greatest paradigm shifts in human history. With the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost, the apostles were transformed into a group of men never before seen. As a Time Magazine article stated back in the early ’80s, the apostles were one of the most remarkable groups that changed the course of human history.

As the story tells us, they started to speak in tongues, and were understood by people of different tongues and nationalities. Scene after scene, as they established the early Church, they spoke and worked in ways never before seen and experienced by people. Thus we saw the start of the new paradigm that created one of the most enduring organizations in human history.

We need a new Pentecost. In recent memory, we have experienced paradigm shifts in our nation. The first was in 1986, in the People Power Edsa Revolution. It was an event unheard of at the time, and was not even considered by experts then as a possible post-snap elections scenario. It was a shift in the soul and spirit of a people, who for so long lived under a dictatorship, and whose liberties and freedom were curtailed.

The second was almost two years ago, when in an early August morning we received news of the death of the People Power-Edsa Revolution icon, President Cory Aquino. Thus started the revival of, I would like to think, the same soul and spirit of a people that almost 25 years earlier won freedom and democracy.

The outpouring of respect and love for the woman who peacefully and spiritually led our people and country to freedom and democracy, and restored a sense of dignity and pride in us, revived the process of the paradigm shift.

The process of the paradigm shift continued. In a matter of weeks the clamor for Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to run for president presented a very real option. In the months that followed, we witnessed a new stage in the paradigm shift where, through the electoral process, the soul and spirit of the People Power-Edsa Revolution were expressed and came to life

Alas! Are we committing the same mistakes again? When, after the euphoric moment of 1986 we all—or at least a great majority of us—went home and resumed business as usual?

Paradigm shifts are not incremental, but radical; not palliative measures, but surgical procedures. They demand nothing less—or so we hopefully have learned by now—than a radical reorientation of the way we see, do and value things. It also entails a radical reorientation of the way we will measure and evaluate success.

Yet we must bear in mind that the paradigm shift is possibly a stage in the process of a larger picture, a part in the greater scheme of things. The shift, as radical as it may seem, may be leading us back to the core, to the authentic core.

Authentic core

In this Sunday’s Gospel (John 20: 19-23), there are two reminders worth taking to heart. First the Risen Lord goes back to the core, his authentic core: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He brings us back to where it all started when, in the Mystery of the Incarnation, Jesus is sent into the world, a broken world to be healed, a corrupted world to be renewed. He goes back to this and starts a new cycle as he sends us into the world.

Second, he gives those he sends into the world the power to heal—“Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them”—and the power to render justice—“whose sins you retain are retained.” We are sent to deliver the message, the good news of peace and justice.

It is time for a new Pentecost. It is time to complete the process of a paradigm shift began 25 years ago, when people from different generations and varying walks of life came together, stood side by side, shared the same dream for freedom, and braved the darkness of those nights until the light of dawn shone not just on Edsa, but all over the country and the world.

The soul and spirit of our people came to life in 1986. It revived itself in 2010. Now we are sent to complete the paradigm shift. We must go back to our authentic core as a people that came shining through in 1986, brave and ready to stand our ground for what we hold dear and sacred, our freedom.

We must be strong and ready to work and persevere against all odds, even the threat of violence and death. We must be true to our calling to give witness to the world that we are a people who can bring about renewal and change, and in a way beyond the world’s wildest dreams and expectations, through a peaceful revolution.

The paradigm shift needs to be completed. It is time for the deeper and more authentic freedom—freedom from corruption and manipulation, so that we may  pursue a life of meaning in a society that provides the basic services of health care, education, livelihood and shelter.

It is our new Pentecost. Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth, of our beloved Philippines. Enkindle in us the fire of your love, for our people and our country.

Information on Kuhn, Copernicus, Ptolemy, and Galileo were taken from Wikipedia.

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