"Change the process, change the outcome." Late last year I travelled to another country as a student ambassador to learn about culture and context. Since I knew the language and had learnt about the culture from a distance (in Australia), I thought I was an expert. But only after reflecting on my experiences was I confronted by my own preconceptions.
One of the major topics covered during my overseas course were the three paradigms of intercultural epistemology. Basically, in order to grasp new experiences, it is usual for a person to initially take a 'positivist' stance, then a 'relativist' stance and finally a 'constructivist' stance. It is not for me to define these categories (others have done an excellent job of discussing these paradigms elsewhere), but a key take home message that I carried back with me was this: we may think we have reached a constructivist standpoint, but our preconceptions are holding us back.
We all have preconceptions based on prior experiences that make us unique beings. This gives us different lenses through which we look at the world, different processes to use and different paths to take. But are we really that different from one another?
I wanted to write about my experiences and thoughts about preconceptions through song but hesitated lest a "keyboard" warrior out there might say I was wrong. So I reached out to Jan and Josef of Amistat and asked if they wanted to collaborate.
Josef: "Jan and I have always been writing music together. Sometimes we would write a song alone, but most of the time we would work together on new music. We always wanted to collaborate with another artist and mix up the writing routine and when Jon messaged if we wanted to get together to work on some music together we had to say yes!"
After a very long meeting and some serious note taking we found common ground, a theme.... Decoding and encoding a message. "People are closing off more and more and are isolating themselves from the rest of the world. We don't communicate with one another anymore, it's all happening on the phone and in the virtual world. Us humans and nations are drifting apart and we are not realising that that's ultimately the biggest threat that our species is facing."
We don't all have the same income that enables us to have the same level of education. We don't all live in the same microclimates with the same amount of infrastructure and access to information. If we truly took a constructivist point of view when looking at a person's circumstances, we would realise that our preconceptions could be holding us back from accepting new ways of thinking. So before we make judgements and react to a situation, we should find out more about where that person is coming from, because it's usually a good place. And that's what will bring us unique beings together.
"It feels great to have worked with someone likeminded like Jon and to have a song come out of it."
We hope you enjoy our song Decoding, by Jon Forest x Amistat.