Why “the Culture” Needs Educating

Here’s the problem:

We human beings are group animals, social animals, team animals.  This is not just a personality or temperament choice/preference of some human beings. Nor is it a particular cultural rule or moral imperative of only some unique human groups.  No.  It’s a biological truth that we human beings are group animals.

But that’s not the problem — our group nature is not the problem. Our team nature is one of our greatest strengths.

We humans would not likely have survived very long as a species if we weren’t group animals.  None of us would have survived to adulthood without the help/cooperation/care of others, and very few of us could survive day to day without the help of a team of other human beings.

This is as true today in modern human cultures as it was/is in Hunter-Gatherer cultures. [See our project “Who’s On Your Team?” for more in depth exploration of our nature as group animals.]

Our “group nature” brings with it “the need to belong” — the need to feel internally “I belong”;  “I belong in this group . . . . at this party . . . . in this neighborhood . . . . in this apartment building . . . . in this classroom . . . . . in this work group . . . . at this meeting . . . . . in this family . . . . in this store . . . . in this country . . . . etc. etc.”  This “need to belong” is also not a “social construction” or a temperament thing.  It is a biological imperative of our “group nature” as a social species.

Nor is “our need to belong” the problem. It’s a necessary element of our group nature.  It’s actually one of the strongest symptoms or evidence of the biological basis of our group nature.

Every group of humans has a “culture” — the “rules,” mores, customs of the group.   In a very real sense every family group has a unique, sometimes very idiosyncratic, culture.  So too neighborhoods, cities, towns, schools, offices, cliques, churches, mosques, temples, friend groups, etc. etc. etc.   Some of the “cultural rules” are explicit, but many (most, really) are unspoken, assumed, implied, not explicit.

This is also not the problem.

Knowing the “cultural rules” helps the group members team play well/effectively together and minimize group conflict — just as knowing the rules for playing soccer or basketball or tennis is a fundamental requirement for playing soccer or basketball or tennis well.

BUT if you “violate” the rules of the culture (the group, the team), someone will inevitably get mad at you, criticize you, make fun of you, shame you. This IS a big part of the problem.

This would not be a problem if the violating of a rule of the culture posed a danger or negative consequences to you or to the group.   In such situations the culture’s negative reactions to violating the rule would be a positive, individual-enhancing and group-enhancing function.

But many (maybe most?) of a culture’s rules are arbitrary and have no reasonable function for protecting, nurturing, improving the lives of the individual group members or enhancing the well being of the group as a whole.   It’s this aspect of our group nature that creates the problem for all (or at least many) of us human beings.

The biological/psychological need to belong is so strong for us humans that most of us will automatically/unconsciously, even compulsively, try to follow the rules of the culture (whether it’s “the culture” of a social party, a work meeting, or an ethnic group or a country) so we’ll “fit in”/not be rejected, no matter whether the rules are good for us or for our loved ones or good for the team, or not.

This is a big part of the problem.

It wouldn’t be a problem if the rules of the culture were grounded in basic principles of life for the optimal health, success, well being, of the individual and the group.

But many (maybe most?) of a culture’s rules are not reasonably grounded in basic principles of life for the optimal health, success, well being, of the individual and the group.  It’s this aspect of our group/cultural nature that needs educating.

The strongest, most powerful leaders of the group will be the leaders of the group’s cultural rules.

This is an even bigger part of the problem.

It isn’t/wouldn’t be much of a problem in small egalitarian groups/teams where everyone is recognized as a part of the group/team — as belonging in the group/team — but in large hierarchical groups it’s a big problem (and even in small hierarchical groups), where the people at the bottom and lower rungs of the hierarchy have no say in the group’s dominant cultural rules, other than to slavishly or passively follow them or to rebel against them and face those consequences. 

The problem is how to sort out which cultural rules are grounded in basic principles of life for the optimal health, success, well-being, of every individual in the group and of the team.

This is the mission, goal, direction, intention for LGIBooks — for all our projects, articles, videos, and audios — to help Educate the Culture about basic principles of optimal functionality for human beings in every human culture that are grounded in credible scientific research or which are so self-evident as to need no scientific validation.