Basic human rights and dignity are not entirely subjective metrics. That those things are routinely and systemically violated every day in this country is not really under debate by “most sane and sensible people.” You are not only an individual living in a culture of other individuals. You are a part of a society that has a particular sociological dynamic (in our case, a patriarchal dominance hierarchy). Pretending that isn’t so and that it has no bearing on what happens between individuals is just another way of dismissing the validity of victim’s assertions and blaming them for what happens to them. It’s predicated on a belief that if people were to be routinely believed, they would invent all kinds of insubstantial grievances, which speaks to an underlying belief that they are already mostly just over-reacting.

In a culture that is centered around a hierarchy of actualization (rather than a dominance-based one), people interact with each other based on their shared commitment to the good of the entire group, which leads to the exact opposite of what you are predicting. When everyone knows that they are respected and treated as though they are an important part of the larger whole, they have no need to “invent” grievances.

“Another type of hierarchy is one of actualization. This is an organizational structure where the leaders not only expect support and respect from those whom they have authority over, but they also give it back reciprocally. Organizational goals get achieved through collaboration and relatedness, rather than paternalism or threats.

A leader in this type of hierarchy is someone who recognizes people’s potential and develops it in alignment with the greater goals of the organization. Special ops groups such as the Navy Seals use this type of hierarchy because it is much more agile than a more paternalistic style in which every move has to be approved from above.

Bringing in more hierarchies of actualization and greater egalitarianism into our culture is not about making everyone the same or even having equal authority. A pure democracy of millions would be really cumbersome. But rather than everyone being out for themselves at the expense of anyone who gets in their way as in a dominance hierarchy, a more egalitarian culture would favor greater teamwork and cooperation for the good of the greater entity, whether that be a business or a community — which in turn, benefits the individuals who make it up.

Instead of zero-sum win/lose it’s seeking for ways to have more win/win. This is how we thrive as individuals and as a society. Anthropologist and primatologist Christopher Boehm theorizes that suppressing our primate ancestors’ dominance hierarchies by enforcing the egalitarian norms of our ancient ancestors was a central adaptation of human evolution.”

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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