TED Talk - Can a Divided America Heal?

Submitted by Bubbling Spring... on September 2, 2020 - 4:15pm


Though this TED Talk was filmed just after the 2016 election, it may be even more relevant as the 2020 election approaches. Author, Social Psychologist, and Professor of Ethical Leadership at NYU's Stern School of Business, Jonathon Haidt (books here), calmly explains the political landscape many of us find ourselves in during these uncertain times, and how essential it is that we at least attempt to heal our divisions by listening to those who see the world differently. He cites a Bedouin proverb as critical to understanding humanity's tribal nature: "Me against my brother. Me and my brother, against my cousins. Me, and my brother, and my cousins, against the strangers."  There does seem to be an abundance of evidence that humanity's tendency to outgroup the other is a phenomenon that will require personal responsibility at the individual level if understanding of diverse perspectives is to be reached in the hope of building a more hospitable planet for the future. 

Far too many other species have already gone extinct during Homo sapiens' brief time of planetary dominance. Nature extends to us absolutely no guarantee of exemption from the same fate we gave them. It is imperative we let our better angels take the reigns, to breach into the common ground of consensus in our conflicts and disagreements. Failing to do so is no longer a valid option for those aiming for progress. It is a profoundly basic duty that those of us who choose to be responsible owe to the children of this world.

Our most enduring and serious pandemic may well turn out to be that of strife itself. A more courageous level of empathy and understanding seems to be both appropriate and necessary to meet the various problems of our current social dilemmas.

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