Top Down or Bottoms Up?

Most thinking is top down, in terms of organisation structure, politics, and ideas about economy. Power and money accumulate at the top of the heap, and in theory, enough trickles down that the people at the bottom are ok. A fleeting glance at the world is all it takes to demonstrate that this really doesn’t work. People at the bottom of the pile can be lethally poverty stricken, and are so far removed from the positions of power that their voices are never going to be heard in this system. Money does not trickle down. The rich get richer, the divide between those who have most, and those who have least, grows.

If you believe that might is right – be that physical or monetary force, then perhaps this is comfortable. There are some who feel that money flows where it is earned, that status is held by those deserving of it. But so often the systems are biased such that if you start at the bottom, your chances of going anywhere are poor indeed. Money begets money and the poverty trap is hard to escape from. This is not an inherently fair system. It is also not the only way of ordering things, it’s just the one we’ve shuffled into, through accidents of history as much as anything else. Often ‘the way things are’ gets presented as unassailable truth. It’s just a system, not a law of physics that makes things work as they currently do. Recognising that there could be other ways opens us all to the possibility of change.

We could, collectively, do very much better, constructing systems that enable more equal access and opportunity. As individuals, we aren’t going to be able to change the world order any time soon, but it needs questioning. If you believe in fairness, honour, responsibility, and the distribution of resources, then top down is totally unviable as a system for managing all things. I know it sounds like innuendo, but what is needed is a much more ‘bottoms up’ approach.

If the poorest people are able to viably live, then you can be sure that every company that would otherwise have predated them, will still benefit because these people will be more economically active. In losing the sweat shop, you may gain customers. If the poorest people are doing ok, the rich are not going to be starving either. Rather than propping up big business, any injecting of cash into economies ought to happen at the bottom end. Political power should also be held as locally and on as small a scale as possible. International affairs can hardly be handled at a village level, but the provision of local services should be planned there. The more power and responsibility ordinary people are given with regards to their own lives, the better.

The only condition on influence should be willingness to work and bear responsibility. Equally, it should not be possible to wield power without carrying responsibility for the consequences that brings. This is, to my mind, a very pagan way of approaching things. Paganism is not about hierarchy, dominance, or oppression, it’s about taking responsibility for your own path, in a way that does not cause unnecessary difficulty to others.

I invite you to embrace a ‘bottoms up’ philosophy, and see where you can apply it.

2 thoughts on “Top Down or Bottoms Up?”

  1. WONDERFUL post, Brynn! I agree 100%. Your statement: “Recognising that there could be other ways opens us all to the possibility of change.” is so true. I think we’re afraid of change AND truthfully —dont want to be bothered with it. Thats a sad state for us all.

    Enjoyed this and will visit back often!

    hugs, Kari Thomas


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