Brian Gonsalves

This conversation is closed.

Are we the total sum of majority consensus or are we much more than that?

If there are no absolutes, no right or wrong, no good or bad, no heaven or hell, no salvation or judgement, then all we are and have ever been as a people is a consensus of opinion driven race.
Whose opinion then will we endeavor to embrace and follow, whose ideas will be grand enough and all encompassing enough to lead us all toward renewed hope and togetherness?

Why do any of our opinions here on Ted or any place else matter? After all when is the last time you or any one, any place had an original idea that could solve the many real issues and problems we face collectively?
Is it your ideas that matter or is it your influence that counts?

Opine please, but ask yourself why does it matter at all. Why should I ask anything and why should you answer?

Does all of this debating change anything?
If you've been coming here for awhile and you haven't changed any long held belief or position at all, then it is safe to answer the above in the negative.

  • thumb
    Mar 26 2012: I have heard many stories of people who's lives were changed by a kind word or act of kindness. The people who uttered those words or performed those acts may never have known the lives they changed. Glory be that they had the courage to say and do the things they did regardless of whether it made a difference or not.

    I joined TED because I found it a good vehicle to share ideas and learn how others think. When we read comments or rebuttals, it gives us a chance to get valuable feedback. Often the feedback is not always positive, but it gives us food for thought. If our ideas are wrong, we may be slow to accept that, but at least we are not stagnating in our current opinions.

    Because of TED conversations, I am finding myself rethinking some of my own opinions based on what others have said. I also realize that I am reading comments on questions that I may never have thought of on my own. We don't all have the answers, but collectively, all of us may have the answers. We just need to keep sharing them.
    • thumb
      Mar 26 2012: You have an open mind Roy and any debate is better because of it.
      I agree words matter and even acknowledging someone with a nod or hello sometimes makes all of the difference in one's day.
      Sharing ideas and accepting that others bring, if nothing else, a different perspective to any debate is so valuable in the end.
      Often is is more valuable what we take away in any debate that what we bring in or contribute to it. We ought to share enthusiastically because we expect to receive more than we contribute, after all why engage if you already have all of the answers.
      • thumb
        Mar 26 2012: I like that saying "minds are like parachutes, they only work when they are open". Imagine screaming all the way to the ground and never knowing that all you had to do to save yourself was pull that ripcord. Knowledge is power.
        • thumb
          Mar 26 2012: Brian and Roy,
          Good one Roy...I agree! Knowledge IS indeed power, so why would we NOT open the parachute/mind to all possibilities?

          The reasons I think of, are that some folks are afraid to have new information? Perhaps it upsets their comfort zone as they have created it? Perhaps it is more comfortable for some to NOT change anything? Those who believe they already have all the answers simply look insecure to me, and I think/feel that probably may not be their intent!

          I agree with Socrates..."Wisdom begins in wonder..."
          Wisdom DOES NOT begin with trying to prove oneself "right".
        • thumb
          Mar 26 2012: Knowledge is a soft landing as well.

          Colleen I guess trying to prove one's self right is not in itself a bad thing, but attempting to do so by answering your own questions, seems the height of lunacy.
      • thumb
        Mar 26 2012: Sorry you're offended by my comment Brian. I was speculating....thinking out loud....not trying to prove myself "right" about anything. Label it "lunacy" if you must:>)
        • thumb
          Mar 27 2012: No, no my friend it is I who must apologize to you.
          I was trying to agree with you, but as I read my comments again I could see how you would have taken it the way that you did.
          Those sentiments were not meant for you but for those who would think that wisdom comes from within themselves.
          I doubt that you can ever offend me or anyone else for that matter, it simply is not your way.
      • thumb
        Mar 27 2012: Thanks Brian,
        I try not to offend, and I'm aware that I may not always be successful.
  • Mar 25 2012: I would agree with Lynn in that it is our right to voice our opinions whether they directly affect change or not. However I do believe that similar thought patterns by human beings eventually affect change. As the message gets out there people will eventually assimilate those thought patterns. So maybe you and I can't change things but we can start the thought process and maybe eventually change can happen. Do not be discouraged keep those thoughts and ideas going. The important thing is for everyone to use their voice and not be afraid of what other people think because it just,ought be the idea or thought that does make a difference. So we should all be supportive of eachother and as Lynn says use those critical thinking skills.
  • thumb
    Mar 25 2012: I have become wiser through TED. Will my little bit of wisdom make a difference? Perhaps to a small circle which may or may not go beyond that. If, however, we (as in you and I) gave up. then there is no chance. In the end, I will not know if anything I said or did mattered, but heck, it's worth trying.

    In closing, what matters is integrity and critical thinking. These two things could pull us through.
    • thumb
      Mar 25 2012: Becoming wiser will make a difference, I am sure, to the people that you influence Lyn, many whom you know and perhaps more importantly some that you don't.

      But why does integrity, critical thinking, honor, values, love, peace, freedom, kindness, respect, why do these matter at all and whose integrity and critical thinking. Since it always seem that these ideals matter only When they serve one's own self interest. Look at the public space and see the state of discourse on the issues that matter in our time, what I see is division and distrust.

      Character and honesty seem to be sorely missing in the forums of power that really matter where debate and consensus has the most effect and influence on our lives.

      How do we become part of those debates if we are to determine our course and evolution?
      • thumb
        Mar 25 2012: You state, ". . . integrity and critical thinking . . . . matter only when they serve one's own self interest." Repecfully disagree. Exactly those things you listed come into play when it's not in your own self interest. Might I add, however, when it is in the interest of others, it becomes 'self interest'.

        It's not about you. It's not about me. It's about us.
        • thumb
          Mar 26 2012: Lyn, my point was that many espouse value and integrity until they are challenged, then the debate sours and the personal attacks begin.
          My original question was, if all that matters is consensus, why do character values like integrity have any consequence at all?
          I admire your viewpoint that our coexistence ought to be win/win, where my interest in you is an interest in my own well being.
      • thumb
        Mar 26 2012: I'm probably in a discussion over my head. I don't think, however, all that matters is consensus. As a matter of fact, if that is the case, we're doomed. Consensus, without the fore-mentioned character values is genocide, annihilation.

        In the grand scheme of universal life, do we go forward as a wise species or a species to be shunned?
        • thumb
          Mar 26 2012: I am with you Lynn in hoping that we base more of what is important on character and values.
          The question though is, on whose values do we base our most important issues of the day?
          And I think that the answer to that question depends on what we believe about ourselves. We must know our intrinsic valve before we chart any course forward or we will sway back and forth based on the whims of what matters momentarily.
          Wisdom comes with time, but the memory is short and so we make the same mistakes over and again.
      • thumb
        Mar 27 2012: I've been thinking about your question: Who's consensus? A little scarey really since the time honored tradition are those in power generally control consensus.

        With globalizaion comes the need for Level 3 organization (did you see the talk by the founder of Skype here on TED?) Seems to me there needs to be a way for the people on this planet to come together and create something like the consitution of the United States, something like the 10 commandments from the bible, something like the scientific process or whatever else serves as a guide for living and find the basics for living together on this planet. I know it's being attempted. Will it work? In some form, it must.
        • thumb
          Mar 27 2012: That is the issue I fear Lynn.
          Under whose authority do we concede personal freedoms to unite under one shared vision?
          Under which code of conduct do we adhere to in order to face massive global challenges.
          I am afraid this is but a dream but we can still do better as a species if we can accept some code of respect that values each individual and each sovereign nation.
          You are right we have done this before.
  • Mar 28 2012: Wisdom comes through living life, learning from mistakes that are made listening to other people's opinions forming your own opinions and sometimes we change our opinions because we learn something new. Our opinions are based I believe on our personal value system and that is why we are all different because different things are important to different people. Some people may be happy with the world as it is because it fits into their personal values. So those of us wishing to change the world could be seen as wrong. A global collective to establish a global set of values as part of the UN is a start but you will always have those individuals who take a different path based on their experiences and hoe they have been treated. It is a difficult process but treating eachother with respect and dignity should be a value that all people on this planet should share, basic human rights. Maybe TED is the place to start developing those global values but it is not enough because you are only getting certain people's opinions and a consensus would have to be reached for change to occur. I am just rambling on but maybe each country should have to come up with a set of values they want incorporated and then all of those values taken to a global conference or the UN to establish a global set of values. A dream or can this become real.
    • thumb
      Mar 30 2012: I agree Lillian, wisdom comes with time and with listening. And not just our own time but the times that went before us, our ancestors share their experiences through stories, literature, art and personal accounts, when we heed their experiences we can measure our own decisions against their results. We neglect the past at our future expense.
      Our value system is based on who and what we let influence us, thus our opinions reflects those same values and are often not our own. Our opinions are a product of the books we read and the people who influence us.
      Look at someone's influences and you can guess their opinions on a host of issues.
      Opinions rarely change when the opposing viewpoint challenges an individuals core belief.
      My question challenges the notion of rule by consensus and suggests that we are more than a collective, but how do we find a way to be the best that we can be and see the best in the other person no matter who or where they may be.
  • thumb
    Mar 25 2012: I think a good number of people debate on TED to exercise their wit or to pick up one or two good arguments to have something interesting to say during lunch at work.
    Only a few are inspired to change their beliefs or make a positive impact in their community.
    • thumb
      Mar 26 2012: I tend to agree Gabe.
      And conversation is good it keeps us engaged and connected, it preserves community and sometimes changes hearts.
  • thumb
    Mar 25 2012: Hello Lillian, thank you for responding.

    I am not at all certain that it is an individual's right to voice an opinion, it certainly is one's right to have one, but some ideas are downright scary and is often voiced too loudly, given too much attention.

    But are we more than the sum total of our opinions, critically thought or not?

    I will never be discouraged because I believe that we are much, much more than the sum of our parts. We are not a collective as much as we are a collection of wonderful and creative beings with endless potential.
    • Mar 25 2012: I would argue the point that it is our right because we live in a democratic society, yes some ideas are scary but I believe it is still a right to voice those ideas. I think we are more than the sum total because I believe we as a human race are capable of so much more. There needs to be a way to go or someone to show the way for some ideas to take root more quickly
      • thumb
        Mar 26 2012: Our right to do anything ought not be base solely on the system of Government that we live under, but on our Human rights. But with rights come responsibility and perhaps in a free Democratic society those responsibilities should be well tended. To whom much is given much is expected.

        You have touched on the crux of my question; There needs to be a way to go and someone to show that way. But what way and who will show?
  • thumb
    Mar 25 2012: Dear Brian,
    Perhaps I am blowing my own horn, and I strongly believe that I contribute to change.....based on a little feedback I get regularly, which I am grateful for:>)

    We decide, as individuals in each and every moment, which ideas we may embrace. We all have the ability to influence each other in each moment, and I participate here on TED because I don't want to give up ANY opportunities as I experience this life adventure:>) When I ask myself "why do something", usually the very next question in my mind and heart is "why not"?

    Good to see you again:>)
    • thumb
      Mar 25 2012: Hello Colleen, happy you're here. It has been awhile for me.

      I am aware of your contributions, not just here on Ted but within your community as well, and I am a fan who has no doubt that your contributions have changed lives for the better.

      But if we are to make significant change for the better of humanity we need to be keenly aware of the important issue of the moment and become involved in the discussion so that we may have the desired influence and the expected outcome.

      So much debate appears to me an exercise in winning the argument, affirming what one already believe to be true. There hardly seems to be any listening, we tend to pick sides and align with those who affirm us and at the end of the debate the side with the most wins.
      It never used to be this way, intelligent debate only happens when both sides come prepared to be challenged intellectually and to be informed specifically on the issue or topic. If we are not prepared to accept that we may be wrong then we are not prepared to debate and to grow. We all lose in this scenario.

      If being on the right side of any issue means the side with the most people and not the side that affects the most positive outcome and change for society then we are truly lost.

      It is wonderful talking with you Colleen
      • thumb
        Mar 25 2012: Brian,
        I agree that being aware of the issues is beneficial to change, and it is important to be engaged with dialogue that hopefully will take us toward desired outcomes.

        I agree that some debate seems to be an exercise in winning the argument, and when I percieve participants with that mind set, I simply do not participate.

        How would it feel if we came to the debate niether convinced that we are "right" or "wrong", but simply looking for solutions? How does it feel when we all pool our knowledge while working toward a shared goal? Personally, that's how I LIKE to participate, and it feels really good....in my humble perception:>)

        To do this, we need to let go of our need to be "right", and as you say, genuinely listen to one another. Everybody is not going to participate in this way, and luckily, we have choices regarding when, how and with whom we will participate in any discussion.

        As you know Brian, my glass is always half full, rather than half empty:>)
        • thumb
          Mar 26 2012: We are in agreement Colleen, I couldn't have stated it any better.
          I'd like to think that I am right all of the time, but then I wake up and realize that I was only dreaming.
          I have heard people say that they engage others because they love to learn, but they hate to be wrong. It seems to be that if you are always right then you have nothing to learn, engaging others then becomes a futile exercise that serves only stroke the ego.
          Your perception is anything but humble my friend.