Political and social hierarchies can be either good or bad for varying reasons. I believe that a solid political and social structure is needed in order to maintain peace within a society, but I also believe that this structure needs to be flexible in order for people of every political view, race, religion, gender and to a degree, age will have a chance at influence if not power. I believe that this is fair and right, and it is why I firmly believe in democracy. I believe it is right for every opinion to be heard, and therefore, every person in a democratic society needs to have a chance at ascending the ladder of political power.
Although I believe that Democracy is the best form of government, I also agree that it can be dangerous. In a democratic society, one has to keep in mind post World War 1 Germany. Although different from the United States system, the Germans had a democratic government for several years. In this form of government, the people would not vote for individuals, but they would vote for political parties. Instead of having two parties, the Germans had many. Because there were so many opponents, the stronger parties allied themselves with less influential parties in order to gain more votes for their particular cause. Unfortunately, parties also turned against each other. The system was overly complicated and ineffective, which is ultimately why the Nazis were able to come to power. As leader of the Nazi party, Hitler was able to pass a law that made him dictator. It is easy to condemn the German people, but one has to keep in mind their economic situation. They were dealing with hyper inflation and war debt that would have been the demise of Germany if not for World War 2. The United States’ form of democracy is safer and more effective, which is why we are one of the most powerful and successful countries in the world.
I also believe in the hierarchy created by capitalism. I believe that there should be rich and poor. This is because I believe that people should be repaid for their efforts. I think the people who work hard should gain more than the people who wait around for a handout. I also think that people should keep what they gain from their work, which is why I do not believe in income taxes. I also do not believe that the government should take away from hard working people so that they can give it to those who did not work for it and do not deserve it. What many people fail to recognize, is that if the rich were not taxed so much they would be less likely to hold on to what money they are allowed to keep with an iron grip, and more likely to donate to charity and give to those who are less fortunate not because they are forced to, but because they want to.
There are many hierarchies I strongly disagree with, however. These are actually hierarchies that are currently more relevant to my own life. I do not agree with the hierarchy created by economic status. This seems to be contradictory to my last point, but let me explain. In a perfect world, money would not matter, but because the world is not perfect, people judge each other based on their occupation and income. Imagine how much nicer the world would be if people were interested in important things like moral character or common interests.
Another excruciatingly annoying hierarchy is the one created by popularity. Although this hierarchy is fairly rigid, there is a relatively easy way to navigate it. Perhaps “navigate” isn’t the best word, but if you find yourself at the bottom of this hierarchy (as I did), there is a lovely solution. You just have to give up caring. In fact, if everyone gave up caring about this hierarchy, it would shatter and die all together. But I digress. The way this hierarchy works is very confusing to me. When I was younger, I thought this social structure only existed among people between the ages of 7 or 8 and 18 or so. I thought it died away with public education. However, as I’ve grown and as I’ve been exposed to more of life, I see that this social structure never dies. I see it among the women in my own neighborhood. I confess, the only thing I understand about this social structure is that it is easier to do things when one is popular, and it is more difficult when one is unpopular.
It is no wonder that hierarchies encompass nearly every aspect of society. According to one theory, hierarchies are actually wired into our brains. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is the theory that over all else, humans need five things to be fully developed. At the very least, people need to be able to fulfill bodily functions such as breathing and excretion. Next they need safety, which can include financial security as well as mental and physical security. Next they need love and belonging, which can mean belonging to another person, or to a group of people. Next they need esteem of themselves and of others. And finally, they need “self actualization,” which is basically the ability to express individuality. There is room for a measure of vicariousness within this hierarchy. For example, one can have financial security while living at home with one’s parents as a child. Therefore, it is not particularly difficult to be able to fulfill all of these needs in one way or another.
I also believe that hierarchies are wired into our brains in other ways. Preference is a type of hierarchy. We like some things more than we like others. We also deem things more important than others. For example, I enjoy reading more than playing video games, and I consider faith more important than reason because I believe in God’s ability to manipulate the world and I believe that His will is good. That is not to say that I disregard reason; in fact I find reason and logic to be exceedingly important, but when it comes to things that I can’t do anything about or that I really do not understand, I turn to faith.