When I first started reading The Righteous Mind the metaphor that stuck out to me the most was “We are 90 percent chimp and 1 0 percent bee.” After reading Haidt’s explanation I still believe this is the most important metaphor of the book. Haidt writes, “Human nature was produced by natural selection working at two levels simultaneously.” (pg. XXII) One of these levels was the individual level, where we compete with other individuals within groups. But another level of our nature is groups competing with other groups. The groups that are able to come together and become like a hive of bees working together towards a larger goal are the ones that are able to succeed. This seems like such an important concept to me, because I believe it explains much of our behavior. We gravitate towards certain groups that we feel have interests similar to our own, like political parties and religions. As humans we have this innate feeling of wanting to belong, and joining groups fulfills that feeling. It gives meaning to the metaphor that we are 90 percent chimp and 10 percent bee. Groups can accomplish so much more than the individual. I think that this metaphor will definitely relate to me as I enter college. I want to get involved with groups. I want to find people with similar interests, and become friends with them. This is something that is very important to me.
The metaphor also relates to my life so far. In high school there was relentless competition to be at the top of the class. Individual competition to do better on tests and quizzes. This is the chimp part of humans. However, there was a group of us who had been friends for a long time. And in high school we all took the same hard classes. On tests and quizzes there was individual competition, yes, to get the best grade and be at the top of the class, but for homework and projects, we worked together. I would bounce ideas off my friends, or work on projects with them, or have discussions with them about the topics discussed in class. And in classes that promoted group work, I would do so much better. I would get an A+ instead of just an A. Being able to work with my friends; we pushed each other, and built on top of each other’s ideas. This was the bee part of our nature. Working together made us better and our ideas stronger.