Homo homini lupus/man is a wolf to his fellow man. This statement, made by Thomas Hobbes, gives a profound reflection on human nature. Men are aggressive according to their more basic instincts, but not everybody agrees.
There are many indigenous communities that make us reconsider this view about our, supposed, innate violent conduct. We can find a big number of peoples that live peacefully even though they are diverse and with different customs, as Douglas P Fry explains in his book “War, Peace, and Human Nature: The Convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views”.
Social cohesion is the cornerstone of the cohabitation of these communities. For example, in the Upper Xingu River (Brazil) ten different tribes live in peace and they do not know conflict among each other. They are heterogeneous but this is not a reason to trigger violent behaviors, unlike the Hobbesian theory; they have the capacity to respect themselves and each other and keep peace.
These people speak four different languages and have their own traditions but they have found the way to live together within their diversity. We can learn a very important lesson from them, and it is that they have decided to focus on the things that make them feel as a single community, respecting their particular traditions and gathering to create collective activities, such as participating in the same feasts, trading with each other allowing marriage among members of the different groups, etc.
The findings of this and other studies resonate with a core assumption of the Shared Societies Project: the right kind of values, policies, structures and institutions foster and encourage cooperative attitudes and relationships between peoples so that they treat each other with respect and dignity. Other values, policies, structures and institutions encourage attitudes which are divisive and exclusive and treat others as less worthy of consideration than people from one’s own group.
People like those in the Upper Xingu River have created such a system instinctively and through experience, but in many of our societies we need to take active purposeful steps to shift towards the creation of a Shared Society. That is why we identified the Ten Commitments which cover the aspects of society which can contribute to a society in which it comes naturally to treat others with respect and dignity and change those aspects which encourage us to exclude and disparage others who we think are different from us. By making these ten commitments we can build a society in which everyone feels valued and at home and where they can make a full and active contribution to the development of the community.
We would not be surprised to discover that the peoples of the Upper Xingu river already share those commitments. They are an example of good leadership for other multicultural societies. Policies seeking the inclusion of varied identities will lead to the inclusion of all the groups and to the creation of a feeling of unity and belonging to that same community.
Policy-makers should take as an example these communities and their way to govern their society. Many of the challenges that states have to face nowadays are related with exclusion of certain groups on account of their religious beliefs, race, sexual orientation, gender, etc. This makes these communities impoverished at all levels.
Inclusion of distinct groups would provide a cultural as well as an economic enrichment, as the Shared Societies Project argues, inasmuch as an inclusive society would realise the skills of all its citizens, without discrimination of any kind, making communities bloom with the contribution of all their members, developing economic growth in which all participate and that will help it to be sustainable.