Episode 28: The psychology of thinking beyond borders, with Steve Taylor

Isabelle Roughol
Isabelle Roughol

Strong attachment to group identity is born out of insecurity, explains psychologist Dr Steve Taylor. Psychologically healthy people feel connected to all humans and are able to think beyond borders. Could we lessen nationalistic stife by promoting psychological health?

Show notes
00:29 Intro
03:17 Are humans naturally tribal?
05:04 When humans developed individualism
08:55 "Psychologically healthy people are not nationalistic"
10:42 The theory of terror management
12:07 Post-traumatic transformation and identity
15:18 Could we attenuate nationalistic conflict by encouraging psychological safety?
17:49 Transnationalism should include more than the human species
19:56 Did the pandemic divide or bind communities?
22:36 Machiavels and narcissists in power
24:53 What psychologically healthy leadership looks like
28:35 Building institutions that encourage good leadership
30:52 Outro

Sources & credits
What if the world was one country? A psychologist on why we need to think beyond borders. Steve Taylor for The Conversation, January 2021
How to stop psychopaths and narcissists from winning positions of power. Steve Taylor for The Conversation, April 2021

Earthrise: The 45th anniversary. Video by NASA.

Why ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ Sound So Similar in So Many Languages. John McWhorter for The Atlantic, October 2015v

Music by Ofshane via Youtube’s audio library


Transcript

Transcripts are published for your convenience, but they are automated and not always cleaned up. Please excuses typos and occasional nonsense, and always check the audio before quoting.

Isabelle Roughol: [00:00:00] Hey listeners, it's Isabelle. If you haven't yet, please sign up for the Borderline newsletter at join .borderlinepod.com. There's going to be a bunch of new stuff coming up with Borderline, and the newsletter is the best way to stay in the know. For instance, we have an event coming up on April 28, an online hangout for all members to get to know each other, ask questions about the episodes or anything really. So become a member, support Borderline, and join us on April 28. That's all at join.borderlinepod.com. Thank you.

[00:00:29] Steve Taylor: [00:00:29] When people feel strongly nationalistic, it's not a sign of good psychological health. It's a sign that there is a sense of low self-esteem, a sense of insecurity.

[00:00:38]

[00:00:48] Isabelle Roughol: [00:00:48] Hi, I'm Isabelle Roughol and this is Borderline.

[00:00:52] On Christmas Eve 1968, three men took a photo that changed our collective consciousness.

[00:00:57] Bill Anders: [00:00:57] Oh, my God. Look at that picture over there. There's the Earth coming up. Wow, that's pretty.

[00:01:02] Isabelle Roughol: [00:01:02] Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Jim Lovell, the astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission, were orbiting the moon when the earth came up over the horizon.

[00:01:11] One of the three frames they took, later known as Earthrise, became iconic.

[00:01:22] It was the first picture of the Earth captured by men on the moon, the first widely circulated image of our home, a borderless dot in the universe.

[00:01:32] The poet Archibald MacLeish wrote: "to see the Earth is it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold."

[00:01:49] If we all could hold onto that feeling, that transcendence that the privileged few who have been in space express so well, there'd be less strife and division in this world.

[00:02:17] That's the starting point for an article in The Conversation that intrigued me. Dr. Steve Taylor, a psychologist and senior lecturer at Leeds Beckett University, writes about the psychology of thinking beyond borders and what an excessive attachment to identity, national identity being one among them reveals about psychological health.

[00:02:40] "Nationalism," he writes, "is a psychological aberration." You know we're going to make friends with that quote.  I know, I know there can be a certain smugness to us antinationalists, transnationalists, globalists, whatever you want to call it, like there is two non-religious folks, a certain self-righteousness that we've got the good rational end of the stick.

[00:02:59] So I want to acknowledge that.  And I don't know that this conversation entirely evacuates that notion, it's there a bit. But nevertheless, I called up Steve Taylor to talk about the psychology of identity and why finding your tribe doesn't have to mean going to war with the other tribes.

[00:03:17] Are humans naturally tribal?

[00:03:17] You start off  by talking about, if you look at the planet from up high,  from space, the few who have done that just talk about a transformative experience of being able to see beyond those borders and those groups and...  At the same time, it struck me that dividing into groups seems to be something that every species does and not just humans, you know, packs and herds and... So why do we do it? Why do we separate into these groups? Is it something that is just natural to us?

[00:03:45] Steve Taylor: [00:03:45] To a degree. I mean, human beings have always been tribal. I've done quite a bit of research on prehistoric human beings and anthropology. That was for a book I wrote called The Fall. But I found that early human beings and also some indigenous hunter gatherer peoples who are still alive today, even though they are tribal, they don't sort of, it's not normal for them to be in conflict with each other and to have a very distinct sense of tribal identity.  Tribes are actually quite interchangeable. They're quite fluid. People often change membership. They cultivate agreement and ties with each other.

[00:04:20] So there's still a kind of myth that early human beings were intensely warlike and they were continually fighting in groups. But the anthropological research doesn't support that, that's kind of a finding, which is emerged over the past 20 years, that there was a very long period of prehistoric peace. Most, even most mainstream anthropologists agree with that now. And part of that was that there wasn't a strong sense of tribal identity, which led to competition and conflict. Tribes were actually quite fluid.

[00:04:48] So I think it's convenient for human beings to divide themselves into tribes and groups. But that doesn't necessarily entail a strong, distinct sense of identity and a strong sense of conflicts and competition.

[00:05:04] When humans developed individualism

[00:05:04] Isabelle Roughol: [00:05:04] So, where does that come from then? That comes later.

[00:05:07] Steve Taylor: [00:05:07] That comes later. I mean, If you look into the history of warfare, what you see is a lack of, an  almost total lack of evidence for warfare until about 5,000, 6,000 years ago, then warfare suddenly becomes endemic. It suddenly becomes very intense and archeologically there, there are signs of a sudden explosion of warfare in certain parts of the world, mainly the Middle East and central Asia. And then it slowly spreads in all directions really until about 4,000 BC, then, very large parts of the globe were engulfed in warfare.

[00:05:45] And um, that scene that seems to be connected to a strong sense of group identity too. And warfare is essentially conflict between groups. So in order to fall into conflict with other groups, you have to have a strong sense of distinct identity. And definitely you have to have a strong sense of otherness, that you are fighting a group who is distinct and different to you, who you feel competition towards. If you were closely linked to that group, then obviously you wouldn't fall into conflict with them.  You'd be more likely to cultivate agreement and some form of ties with them.

[00:06:19] That suggests that group identity was linked to warfare and they both became strong around the same time. I think there were probably some psychological reasons for that.

[00:06:31] Isabelle Roughol: [00:06:31] And what are those?

[00:06:33] Steve Taylor: [00:06:33] I knew you were gonna ask that. Um,

[00:06:34] Isabelle Roughol: [00:06:34] It's the logical follow-up.

[00:06:36] Steve Taylor: [00:06:36] well...  There were signs that human beings developed a stronger sense of individuality, a stronger sense that we were individual beings living inside our own mental space. And  that goes with a sense of otherness, where if you feel that you are an individual living inside your own mental space, that creates a sense of separation. And separation creates a sense of otherness, a sense that you are different and distinct.

[00:07:04] So there are lots of signs of this increasing sense of individuality. You know, it's very difficult to say why it emerged, but it does seem to have emerged. And it's one of the essential things which differentiate, for example, ancient Greeks,  the first so-called civilizations, from  the other peoples, the earlier groups who existed at that time. The ancient Greeks had this strong sense of individuality, which went along with their strong sense of um, their strong desire for power and wealth, and their strong desire to conquer other peoples.

[00:07:36] And it seems to be connected with the first civilizations. The change over from an agriculture, from an  hunter-gatherer way of life to an agriculture way of life. It's probably connected to farming and settlements and civilizations. That seems to have led to this. It seems to have been connected to this increasing sense of individuality, which led to an increasing sense of group identity, then a sense of statehood and...

[00:08:01] Even in very sort of literal physical terms, you get human beings living in small towns. Whereas early human beings have been very um, well as hunter gatherers, we were very mobile.  We didn't stay in one place. We would stay in one place for a few months maybe, and then we would move to somewhere else. So it wasn't a  strong, strong sense of attachment to one particular place, to one particular site.

[00:08:24] But once human beings settled down and grouped together into towns, then they became more territorial and that sense of territory, you know, was clearly connected to warfare and identity as well probably.

[00:08:39] Isabelle Roughol: [00:08:39] That's interesting. Oh, and we can talk about that later, but I, to me I find that fascinating, how that relates to what we're living today, which is uh, we had a world that was extremely mobile that has suddenly become quite literally set in place in the past year.

[00:08:54] "Psychologically healthy people are not nationalistic" So, but, but going back to kind of our ancient roots, what makes you then as an individual relate more to certain other individuals, more than others and form that group, then that kind of us versus them mentality?

[00:09:09] Steve Taylor: [00:09:09] It seems to be connected to a sense of insecurity. I'm not saying that anybody who feels that they have a national identity feels a sense of insecurity.  But when it becomes very strong, when people become nationalistic, when they feel that they are in conflict with other nationalities or other countries, that seems to be connected to a sense of insecurity.

[00:09:32] And I also think that's connected to the strong sense of individuality that I mentioned earlier. If you feel separate, if you feel that you are an individual living inside your own mental space, then you feel a sense of lack. You feel a sense that, you know, you're, you're, you're like a fragment, which has been broken off from the whole. So there's something missing. So you're looking for things to, to cling to, to strengthen your sense of identity. And I think that is a factor in, in a strong sense of nationalism.

[00:10:01] When people feel strongly nationalistic, it's not a sign of good psychological health. It's a sign that there is a sense of low self-esteem, a sense of insecurity.

[00:10:10] Psychologically healthy people are not nationalistic. And that's one of the things I've found in my research. Psychologically healthy people are trans nationalistic. They go beyond a sense of national identity. They feel a kinship with all human beings no matter the seemingly superficial differences.

[00:10:26] They don't feel especially strongly connected to the people who live around them. They feel connected to all human beings. So I think that there is a sense of insecurity there, a need for identity, a need to cling to labels of identity and nationhood.

[00:10:42] The theory of terror management

[00:10:42] Isabelle Roughol: [00:10:42] Hm, that's going to make you popular in some circles. You, you write about, speaking to that insecurity, you write about the theory of "terror management?" What's that?

[00:10:53] Steve Taylor: [00:10:53] It's a psychological theory, which has emerged in the past 20 years ago, 20 years. And it's been validated by a lot of research. And the theory basically shows that when people are made more aware of death, when they're kind of reminded of their mortality, it creates a sense of insecurity. And that sense of insecurity creates a need for identity.

[00:11:17] So it's kind of similar to what I was talking about already. And that need for identity manifests itself in increasing nationalism, a materialistic lifestyle, a need for ideologies of one form or another. So it's basically the way that human beings manage the terror of death. That's what terror management theory basically means.

[00:11:40] So  death makes us feel insecure, and that insecurity leads to a desire to cling to things, to take on labels of identity, which leads to nationalism and ideological attachments. And also too, it's connected to a strongly materialistic lifestyle too. People search for wealth and possessions and more power and more success in reaction to awareness of death.

[00:12:07] Post-traumatic transformation and identity

[00:12:07] Isabelle Roughol: [00:12:07] So what makes  people who don't have that, those particular attachments, what makes them different?  What happens that makes someone feel, more secure and transnationalist versus someone who's clinging onto those identities?

[00:12:22] Steve Taylor: [00:12:22] It's a... Well in my research, I've done some studies of people who attain a, you know, a  kind of level of psychological development where they feel extremely, they feel a strong sense of wellbeing and a strong sense of connection to other people and to the world around us, a strong sense of connection to nature.

[00:12:40] Sometimes that's called in psychology self-actualization. It's when people sort of, um, they develop in a very positive way in a kind of spiritual perspective, you could call that, a kind of awakening kind of transformation. And I found that it sometimes occurs after long periods of psychological turmoil.

[00:12:59] It happens to people who, for example, are addicts for a long time. And they recover from their addiction. It sometimes happens to people who are diagnosed with cancer and recover. Sometimes it happens to people after bereavement and they go through the trauma of bereavement and in reaction to the trauma and the kind of desolation and loss that they've been through, they actually undergo long-term positive psychological development. It's sometimes called post-traumatic growth in psychology, or sometimes it's called post-traumatic transformation. Cause it's sometimes quite a radical transformation to the point where people feel that they are, almost as though there are different people to who they were,  to the people they were before.

[00:13:41] So when people undergo this, this shift or this development, they feel a tremendous sense of wellbeing. They lose their anxieties. They lose their worries. They feel very connected to other people. They feel very compassionate, very empathic to other people. And they feel a strong sense of security,  they don't feel as though anything is missing from them. They feel a sort of sense of completeness.

[00:14:08] And one aspect of that is that they lose the need for group identity. So they, they really do sort of transcend any national sets of identity, any kind of religious sense of identity too. They don't identify as Christians or Muslims anymore. So it takes them beyond the need for Identity.

[00:14:26] One sort of very clear example of that from my research, which happened two or three times actually with different people, there were a couple of guys who were massive football fans. And one of them supported Leicester city. One of them supported Brighton. But then they went through this transformation after intense stress. One was a bereavement, one was intense stress and depression. And afterwards, they still liked watching football, but they didn't identify as a fan anymore of those clubs. They just enjoyed watching the match itself without identifying with a team. And they wanted both teams to win because they didn't feel any sense of attachment to either team.

[00:15:05] So when you feel that level of security and wellbeing, then it takes you beyond group identity, whether it's group identity in terms of a nationality or in terms of a football club..

[00:15:18] Could we attenuate nationalistic conflict by encouraging psychological safety?

[00:15:18] Isabelle Roughol: [00:15:18] Hmm, That's interesting because that suggests that maybe a lot of the conflicts that exist today around this sense  of nationalism is something that potentially we could, if not end, , um,  lessen by fostering a sense of psychological safety. How do we create that? Is that something that can be built and encouraged?

[00:15:41] Steve Taylor: [00:15:41] To a degree. It's something that can be cultivated. So we're really talking about transcending a sense of insecurity and separateness. I think, I think separateness is the fundamental problem. You know, when you feel that you are a separate, detached, isolated individual, then you have this strong need to cling to things, to attach yourself to labels and to belong to groups.

[00:16:05] That's evident because in times of crisis, this need for group identity seems to become stronger. There are lots of historical events where there was some sense of national threat, or there was a high degree of economic insecurity, and that led to increased nationalism, which led to warfare. So yeah, fundamentally at the most, at the deepest level, it goes down to personal development, psychological development, even spiritual development you could say.

[00:16:37] That's why  I'm a big advocate of meditation. I meditate every day. And one of the reasons for that is because meditation cultivates a sense of connection. When your mind becomes quiet and your thoughts slow down, you feel this natural sense of connection to the world around you, to other people. And when you feel that sense of connection, you don't feel a sense of anxiety... Well, you know, a sense of insecurity and anxiety decreases because you're not, you are no longer separate. You're participating in something bigger than yourself. You're part of the environment you're in. And when you have that, that sense of connection and wellbeing, then there's no need for a group identity. It's just...

[00:17:24] Another essential aspect of that is that you feel compassion to other people. When you are connected to other human beings, you can't see them as, as different to you. You see them as part of you and you feel a natural sense of empathy towards them. And that obviously negates any need for conflict or competition.

[00:17:49] Transnationalism should include more than the humanw species

Isabelle Roughol: [00:17:49] I had a guest on the podcast last year, Hassan Damluji. He wrote about how sort of nationalism had brought good things to the world essentially, and how globalism should learn from it. And  his theory is that essentially, a globalist, transnationalist world would be kind the same feelings that one has towards the nation, but for a bigger circle, essentially. The same logic, but just for a wider group that would encompass all of humanity.

[00:18:18] And so I wonder how you feel about that. Are nationalism and transnationalism polar opposites or are they fundamentally the same thing just applied to a different group? Because if it's born from here and insecurity and anxiety, maybe that's not something that we necessarily want to reproduce.

[00:18:36] Steve Taylor: [00:18:36] Yeah it's a tricky one because  like I said, people who undergo  this transformation, they feel connected to the human race as a whole. They just sort of transcend the sense of  national or ethnic connection.

[00:18:48] But yeah, I think that one of the issues with that would be that we have issues with the human race's attitudes toward other species and our treatment of other species. And if you identify with the human race as a whole, which is in a way positive, but it could also lead to some sense of otherness to other species. I think we need to make the circle wider and include other living beings as well.

[00:19:11] Because obviously, we can't continue on our present path where we abuse and exploit nature and mistreat and murder other living beings on the scale that we do. We can't live in harmony with the whole planet until we include all other living beings and the planet itself within our sets of identity. So I would say that we need to go further and identify with the planet Earth as a whole and all of the species which live on this planet.

[00:19:42] Isabelle Roughol: [00:19:42] Until we meet alien species and then we'll have to widen the group again.

[00:19:46] Steve Taylor: [00:19:46] Well, we can identify that with them as well. We can include them. We can include the whole universe.

[00:19:52] Isabelle Roughol: [00:19:52] That sounds like a quite a program.

[00:19:56] Did the pandemic divide or bind communities?

[00:19:56] I want to talk about the past year of it.  One thing that I've been reporting on a lot lately  are transnational families, people who have loved ones beyond borders and who have been very limited in being able to see them in the past year. And , um, I have seen a vitriol towards them that I didn't expect. Um, and it's just been extremely... I felt actually kind of, um, nations kind of crumbling or separating between the people who were happy to stay in place and the people who for whatever family reasons, had to be crossing borders and traveling.

[00:20:34] Steve Taylor: [00:20:34] Yeah. I mean, maybe it reflects the sense of crisis that I mentioned earlier that in times of crisis, obviously anxiety increases.  Insecurity increases. Then there's an increasing sense of otherness and an increasing sense of  group identity and national identity.  So maybe that has manifested itself in increasing animosity, maybe even increasing racism.  But I think there has been another side to it too. People have developed an increased sense of community as well. Times of crisis, they can bring out the worst in people and also the best in people. People often become much more altruistic following crises. Crises can also bond or bind people together. They can bind the community together and  shift the community up to a higher level of integration. So I think that's happened as well.

[00:21:25] Isabelle Roughol: [00:21:25] So you're feeling quite hopeful about sort of the general psychological place where people are right now.

[00:21:32] Steve Taylor: [00:21:32] To a degree. I think, I mentioned earlier post-traumatic growth. You know, that when human beings go through difficult times, challenging situations, it often has a positive effect in the long term. And I think that may be, that may be a long-term effect of the pandemic too. A lot of people have remarked on how it's given them a, an appreciation for simple things. It's enhanced relationships. Um And I know there are obviously lots of negative effects too, but there's a small sort of group of positive effects which have occurred. And I think once, if we do come through and life returns to some semblance of normality, then there will be a degree of post-traumatic growth. There will be an increased sense of appreciation, gratitude and an increased sense of community. But then again, you know, people accuse me of being a naive optimist. But I think it's important to be positive.

[00:22:33] Isabelle Roughol: [00:22:33] The world needs more of those. I've been accused of that as well.

[00:22:36] A psychological assessment of people in power

[00:22:36] Um, but do you think that that offsets... I mean on the negative side, you do have an amount of trauma and grief and anxiety and depression and all those things that come  from isolation. And also, I have to say, the, the thing that has worried me a lot in that a lot of my interviews have been about are that sense of yes, stronger connection at the local level, but also a sense of alienation from other groups whether that's anti Chinese hate or borders closing or animosity towards people who travel because they're bringing the virus.

[00:23:11] Steve Taylor: [00:23:11] Yeah, that's true. I think one of the problems we have, one of the problems that the human race has always had, is that people who attain positions of power tend to be more nationalistic than ordinary people and they tend to spread their nationalism too. They try to spread their nationalism to ordinary people through propaganda.

[00:23:30] There's a massive issue with people with narcissistic traits, psychopathic traits, Machiavellian traits, attaining positions of power. And  people with those traits are normally corrupt, unscrupulous, um, very nationalistic, very keen to create conflict, but those people naturally gravitate towards positions of power. As you can see, , with president Trump's administration and the UK, the present UK government.   The present Chinese government seems to be quite nationalistic and aggressive, as is the present Russian government. So there seems to be growing tension around the world, simply because we have such people in positions of power.

[00:24:10] One of the things I'm campaigning for as a psychologist is psychological assessment of politicians. And any candidate for political power should be rigorously assessed by panels of psychologists just to determine their level, their personality traits and whether they are they're suitable for power. Um, one of the problems with that is that all politicians would never allow it because they know they'd lose their jobs. But in all seriousness, I've started to write about this and campaign for it and it's got a great response. I'm quite optimistic about it.

[00:24:43] Isabelle Roughol: [00:24:43] Oh, that's interesting. Yes, because that is a common issue in politics to the people who are interested in power are usually the people you really, that really shouldn't have it.

[00:24:52] Steve Taylor: [00:24:52] Yeah.

[00:24:53] What psychologically healthy leadership looks like

[00:24:53] Isabelle Roughol: [00:24:53] Let's end on a positive note then. What does a different kind of leadership look like, and whether that's people going into politics or just demonstrating leadership at their own level, in their community, in their businesses. What does leadership that fosters that sense of connection  and peacefulness look like?

[00:25:13] Steve Taylor: [00:25:13] You could call it empathic leadership. It stems from certain personalities. Empathic, responsible and compassionate people are generally not particularly interested in power. They don't have the drive to dominate other people, which is why we end up with people with the other traits in power. Empathic people like to  remain on the ground, connecting with others. They're not really interested in raising themselves to a higher level and attaining power and dominance.

[00:25:39] But you know, sometimes these people do attain positions of power, either through merit or through a long process of slowly working their way up. And when it happens, these people, they are not coercive. They try to encourage people to make their own decisions rather than imposing decisions on them. They are very democratic. And rather than creating conflict, , they create bonds. They create connections with others. It's a completely different world, the world of empathic leaders, compared to the world of authoritarian psychopathic leaders.

[00:26:17] Let me give you a concrete example. In Mozambique, at the end of the 1980s, there was a terrible civil war and hundreds of thousands of people died. But there was one guy called Joaquim Chissano. Um He was a leader of one of the groups which won the civil war and he became president of Mozambique. I think this was in the early nineties.

[00:26:36] But rather than, you know, punishing his enemies and rather than furthering the conflict, he decided to create connections. He decided to be compassionate to his enemies. So he included  members of the enemy groups in his government. He didn't punish or send anybody to prison. He engaged in reconciliation.  A bit like  Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

[00:26:59] And it was a, it had a remarkable effect. The civil war, the conflict of the civil war ended. There was a period of peace.  The economy developed quickly. Childhood literacy increased significantly. And it was just an example of a sort of empathic, responsible leader with conscience who made connections rather than increase conflict.

[00:27:25] And  there's even a connection to meditation here because Chissano  started to practice meditation and he decreed that all the generals in his army should learn to meditate. All civil servants should practice meditation. Who knows whether they were actually doing it but it appeared to have a positive effect on the whole country. There was this increasing sense of togetherness.

[00:27:45] And, you know, he was revered as that, you know, as a rare example of a responsible and empathic leader. So, you know, it makes such a difference when you have  this kind of leader. And we saw it in America with President Trump, this kind of barbaric  nationalism , uh, leading to increased conflict and chaos. Often leaders have this kind of malevolent streak in them. They just feel this deep rooted impulse to create conflicts and chaos.

[00:28:09] But you know, if you put somebody else in place with empathic traits, which hopefully, you know, Joe Biden will hopefully illustrate. .It It's early days, but he seems to be a fairly empathic person, you know, it makes, it makes a world of difference. Literally, a world of difference.

[00:28:26] Isabelle Roughol: [00:28:26] He could be a good case study perhaps for you for posttraumatic growth, given his history.

[00:28:32] That's true actually, yeah. Yeah.

[00:28:35] Building institutions that encourage good leadership

[00:28:35] Steve Taylor: [00:28:35] The likelihood of these leaders, of psychopathic narcissistic leaders arising, it does speak to problems within our democratic systems. I don't think we have, we have a very advanced form of democracy, really. I think the ancient form of democracy in Athens was probably more advanced than us because it was a very direct democracy where citizens would directly participate , um, in decisions.

[00:28:57] Isabelle Roughol: [00:28:57] I had an interesting conversation recently about trying to go , uh, to a syst em that I think existed for a little bit in ancient Rome, which is a lottery where your leaders are literally randomly chosen.

[00:29:11] Steve Taylor: [00:29:11] I mean, we do that with juries for example. And I think we need to widen that. In hunter gatherer societies that's  often how leaders are chosen. People don't put themselves forward as leaders. , In fact, in hunter-gatherer societies, when people do that, they often ostracized because then people know that that will disrupt the harmony of the group. So there are measures to make sure that dominant individuals don't gain power. And there are measures to, to choose people who are wise, usually old, experienced, empathic and responsible. Those people are chosen to be the leaders, whether they want it or not. They have responsibility to become leaders.

[00:29:47] Anthropologically and historically there isn't a difference between human beings. Human beings originated from the same place, East Africa. About 60,000 years ago, I think, we began to migrate from East Africa. So obviously we just migrated to different parts of the planet. Our appearance changed due to environmental and climate factors. But essentially we just all stem from the same place and that's even reflected in language.

[00:30:12] Some, some linguists, linguistic anthropologist believe that there are traces of one original human language in all languages now, that you can trace all human languages back to one kind of proto human language. So there are similarities in certain words, like "mother" and other kind of very elemental words in all languages. And that, that reflects the fact that we are, we are just one group who spread out over our planet, but essentially we are one and the same.

[00:30:42]Isabelle Roughol: [00:30:42] That's a good word to end on, one and the same.

[00:30:44] Steve Taylor: [00:30:44] One and the same.

[00:30:46] Isabelle Roughol: Thank you so much.

[00:30:47] Steve Taylor: You're welcome. It's been a pleasure.

[00:30:52]Isabelle Roughol: [00:30:52] Thank you to Dr. Steve Taylor and to Dmitry Shishkin for passing on the article. I love it when members and listeners suggest guests and things for me to read. So please don't hesitate to reach out. I'm easy enough to find on all the social media and you can email me at isa@borderlinepod.com

[00:31:08] And if you'd like to get more involved, become a member, we're all going to hang out next week in our monthly members call, talk about the episodes, any other questions you might have and get to know one another. So now is a great time to join so you don't miss that event on April 28. Go to join.borderlinepod.com and opt for a paid subscription. That helps keep Borderline going as an independent, fully listener-funded media, and I'm incredibly grateful for it.

[00:31:32]I'm your host, Isabelle Roughol. Music is by Ofshane. Borderline is a One Lane Bridge production. I'll talk to you next week.

[00:31:39] And for the photography nerds...

[00:31:43]250 at f/11...

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Isabelle Roughol

Journalist. Founder & host of Borderline. Former international editor of LinkedIn, foreign editor at Le Figaro, reporter at The Cambodia Daily. Global soul, messy accent.


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