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How to Overcome the Effects of a Hierarchical Culture

red sports car
Photo by Lance Asper on Unsplash

White culture, like everything, has its high points and low points. One thing that’s pervasive in this culture is hierarchical thinking. It’s everywhere you look. There is indeed value in hierarchies, but we’ve taken this to an extreme and it pervades everything we do.

Living in a Hierarchical World

We jockey for position in the pecking order at work. We seek ways to feel superior even to our neighbors, friends, and family members. This is the thinking that drives the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality: my neighbor buys a car, so I need to buy a better car. We are constantly operating in this one-up/one-down mode. Am I smarter than him? Which of us has a higher status? Who has more clout in this situation? We’ve created a culture of contest and competition, of ranking others and ranking ourselves.

In such an environment, the object is to seize the superior position whenever you can. Worse still, this behavior becomes unconscious. We just automatically adopt a sense of superiority to those around us, especially those who look different from us. This is the type of thinking that allows racism, classism, and sexism to permeate society. Our world today is forcing us to face up to the damage these oppressions cause.

Transforming Superiority

If this hierarchical mentality is ingrained in our culture, how do we overcome it? How do we transform this sense of superiority?

Here’s what I’m discovering as I work through this tangle in my own life:

  1. Focus on what I’m learning.

  2. Every one of us is vital to the work of moving us forward.

  3. Become a channel for love and spirit to flow through me.

Check out the links above for a series of posts that dive into each of these lessons in more detail.

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