CLUES: Lower People Hold Up Hierarchies


go Hierarchies are easiest to see when viewed from lower levels

go Lower people depend on clueless people

go Lower people need fixing

go Blaming and trying to fix the bottom keeps “problems” intact

imageHierarchies are easiest to see when viewed from lower levels.

When we are in lower groups, we can’t afford the luxury of ignorance about the opinions, actions, and movements of those on higher levels. To survive among and maneuver around higher people, those lower in a hierarchy learn about the higher people.

imageLower people vigilantly monitor the moves, rules, and opinions of those who have control and power over them. Higher people’s actions and beliefs directly affect the amount and types of resources or censure lower people receive. Also, hierarchical roles dictate that lower people accommodate the needs and comforts of higher people, so lower people must learn about higher ones to be effective caregivers.

Lower people depend on clueless people

We have been conditioned to believe that the people atop hierarchies are the most capable, so we look to them to provide leadership and solve our problems. The people isolated at the top, however, have the least information of anyone in the hierarchy about everyone affected by their decisions.

Many lower people incorrectly believe our programming that people on top are making decisions from an informed position, taking into account the needs of all groups. Often, lower people become confused and sidetracked when people at the top effectively camouflage their lack of real information behind a blizzard of “noble causes,” puffery, lies, and rhetoric. Lower people are often amazed, stunned, and/or angered when it appears that the decisions of higher groups are selfish, arrogant, inhumane, and greedy. In reality, the people on top are only fulfilling their top roles by channeling resources and power to themselves.

Lower people need fixing

When we are in the lower ranks of a hierarchy, our traditional role is to see ourselves through the eyes of higher groups. We become convinced that our accomplishments or personal characteristics are below par. We believe that, no matter what we do, we are just never quite good enough. We constantly try to fix ourselves, a practice that gobbles up our time and resources in service of that hierarchy.

We strengthen our hierarchical system any time we believe that we should change our natural selves to conform to the standards of those on top. When we base our self-esteem on a hierarchy, we become immobilized and locked into a lower place as we look to others for approval.

Blaming and trying to fix the bottom keeps “problems” intact

imageMaking sure that problems in the hierarchy remain unsolved involves two steps. The first step was discussed in the previous section: we factor the people who have the power and resources to solve the problem right out of the picture, and pretend they aren’t involved.

In step two, we make sure that people in lower groups, who have the least resources to solve the problem, are made responsible for any changes that need to occur. We use people lower on the hierarchy, those who did not generate the problem and do not have the resources or power to change the situation, as scapegoats.

As per the rules of a hierarchy, lower people are blamed for problems that the system creates. Many times, lower people are told that if they would just fix themselves, the problems would go away.

But even if lower people work hard to change their situation — surprise — the status quo remains! No matter how hard lower people work, the problems still persist.

For additional CLUES on the website, see CLUES - 101 and CLUES - Top.

For additional CLUES and more detailed explanations, see Clueless at the Top.

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