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  • Writer's pictureKarl Walker-Finch

Levelling the field

Social hierarchies need to disappear. These are the ones that exist but maybe aren’t quite labelled as such, but we all know they exist.

Before you close the browser and eye roll your way onto the next thing, this isn’t some neo-socialist rant to destroy capitalism, workplace hierarchies exist and they inform job expectations and remuneration. This does not mean however that on a social level, the same hierarchy should remain in place. When the job is taken away, we are all equal, we are all human and we all live our own lives interjected with influences from everyone else around us. Our relationships with those around us need to be as equals, not on a ladder of inequality where those on the top rungs get first dibs and the rest can pick up the scraps.

It is important to draw a distinction between what Kishimi and Koga define as vertical and horizontal relationships, in their book The Courage To Be Disliked (available here).

The concept is simple, we are all equal. Your relationships with those around you should be grounded in this framework of equality.

Understanding this relieved me of the pressure and expectation I put on myself of being me. I do not have to be responsible for being the best at everything and doing absolutely everything. Others around me are just as valuable and can share the load.

Arming myself with this attitude has also allowed me to form stronger relationships with people I may not have allowed myself to have an honest conversation with.

I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t always appreciated the importance of realising that I’m no better or worse than anyone else around me. Early in my career I had a tendency to (subconsciously) rank those around me, placing certain clinicians on a pedestal, worthy of adulation, whilst simultaneously feeling my own rank of being a qualified dentist gave me some sort of right to a higher social status than others around me. It will come as no surprise that there have been times when people have taken offence to this, and rightly so.

As the global turbulence continues, remember that regardless of social status, income, country of origin, gender, race or any other label that may be imposed upon us that we are all equal. No one person has a greater claim to their right to existence than any other and we’re all trying to forge our own way through our lives.

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