We tend to think of evolving as an indication of moving towards a better or more desirable thing, but that wasn’t what happened in this instance. For 2 thousand years, the area around Anatolia (as well as other parts of the world) had a largely peaceful agrarian society with a great deal of equality and cooperation.

It is believed that changes in the environment, such as droughts or other natural disasters may have coincided with incursions from Proto-Indo-European peoples from the North, who brought with them a patriarchal warlike culture which overtook the peaceful one, either by force or by assimilation, or both.

So, did they outcompete in the most literal sense? Yes, but it still doesn’t make it inevitable that we are stuck with this cultural paradigm. Denmark is a good example of how they are intentionally creating a more empathetic and partnership-oriented culture in the present day.

“In other words, we have the capacity to alter the kind of society that we live in by encouraging a movement away from self-serving individualism and the constant climb up the social hierarchy in favor of behaviors that bring about better interpersonal connection and cohesion. Helping each other in the pursuit of a common goal is something that humans are genetically predisposed to do. It makes us feel a part of something and as the Danes have shown, is something that can be taught and cultivated.

Hunter-gather tribes like the !Kung counter domineering behavior from senior males by forming coalitions within the group. They are intolerant of hoarding or selfishness and social order is maintained through ridicule, banishment, and sometimes even execution. What would happen in our culture if instead of approving and admiring selfish and domineering behavior, we refused to tolerate it? What would happen if we prioritized contributing to our tribe, even if only the one in our neighborhood or community? If history and current examples are any indication, we would be a culture with lower levels of violence, depression and mental illness — a much happier society.”

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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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