TED Conversations

Student, Royal Veterinary College

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Do you for Foresee a Bright Future? We face greater and increasing threats to how we now live, do you THINK we can change?

Will the general way of life continue to improve for a bright future?
...a broad and daunting question that doesn't require long specific answers for each point (these are only some that come to mind), this should focus mostly to be a debate of opinions on our ability to change and not a prose of everyone’s comprehensive answers, they would not be read!

-Technology may be advancing, but can we afford to make and distribute it effectively?
-The global population is increasing (nearly 7billion) and is predicted to skyrocket... Can we feed ourselves; I've heard on TED that in short yes, but can we carry this out and tackle the logistics?
-Environmental disasters are a big issue for our dense populations in way of casualties and time to recover services (water, roads, electricity)... consider the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, might this get worse and as some argue, more frequent?
-Again for the population increase, energy & fossil fuels: cars, electricity... I shouldn't need state details for this point!!

--I'm sure as with nearly all things, the answer is not simple and black & white, and that opinions are subjected to things like:
media hype, over-publicity of extreme predictions, and increasing awareness that disasters happen all the time,

However, I still feel that we need to change/adapt our ways for the future and not all these issues will come at once, be as severe, or happen at all, but to varying degrees I think we lack enough realistic thought...

can we change, the number of people to influence is growing.

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    Apr 8 2011: Probably each person's answer to this question is going to depend less on the facts and more on whether they are inclined to think optimistically or pessimistically (and I think we can change between the two).

    I am thinking optimistically. Humans are wired for survival. As an individual we can look at our own future and dread all the possible negative outcomes that await us. But usually we find that if we take one day at a time, we manage to get through. As a society, we also exhibit this adaptability. As we are confronted with problems, solutions are found. Solutions which we couldn't have even imagined at the outset. Immediate need is a big motivator for innovation.

    Now there is a possibility that we screw up big time. Suppose that there is a major catastrophe (lets not worry about meteors, invasions of aliens and what not for now) and 90 percent of the world's population dies. The remaining 10% will pick up the pieces and go on. Take that as a worst case scenario (probabilistically speaking).

    Human-kind will survive (I optimistically believe).
    • Apr 8 2011: I would certainly agree to survival, particuarly with some communities being so remote and a very good point on optimism vs pessimism.

      To look at things in way of chance there seems to be more and increasing risks against how we live and how good/bad we are at changing something big like switching from fossil fuels just in personal transport for example, it is a big complicated process that althogh not all at once, will involve/effect billions of people.
      I am fairly optimistic about this, but it's a big ball to get rolling!
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      Apr 8 2011: I agree with Tim

      Being optimist myself, and after reading 'the rational optimist' even more so...

      concerning "can we change": depends greatly on what you want to change...
      panta rei, no?
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        Apr 12 2011: "Panta rei". That's a new one for me Christophe. Thanks.
  • Vijay P

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    Apr 8 2011: Quality of life is both psychological (internal) and environmental (external). Yardstick for the latter are clear and measurable - evidently t has been consistently improving. Think of incandescent light bulb vs led light or mobile phones vs landlines or percent of educated compared to same rate decades before, environmental awareness and many others (I'm sure you've seen the fascinating presentations by Hans Rosling in TED.) The general direction the external improvements is taking is towards greater efficiency and higher penetration (distribution.) And this is bound to continue this way. Now critical of the 2 factors, psychological: It is individual driven and closely related to the personal level of awareness of life in general. This is the one that determines whether you look at life as a half empty or half full. If one were to hypothesize that improvement in external factors is the outcome of a positive and peaceful inner-self, then there is our answer. So, we are living a great life and are looking at a positive future. The nature within us is to feel peaceful and achieve happiness and we all learn that we are happier when we share than when we claim. So in a nutshell we shall overcome.
  • Apr 7 2011: Your right, the human race lacks goals. The human race is just trying to survive and not trying to evolve.
    There has been 1000's of discoveries that have been destroyed by the major companies scared of losing business.
    Power and money have endrenched the mind.
    a bright future is possible but everyone has to be the same. Mans biggest downfall is its ego

    Theres a million ways to generate electricity and million ways to make food. Planet earth is sustainable by itself if fossil fuels would stop choking her

    We can change but it wont stop the fall of man. Extinction is the reality, All life dies eventually its just a matter of seeing how long we can last
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    Apr 28 2011: The light of a single flame has the power to enlighten the entire world, one candle at a time. The combined wisdoms of spirituality, science and psychology are used to show that substance and light are synonymous. Every person has the power within their own particular sphere of influence to enlighten and appreciate (in all senses of the word) the value and substance of others.

    Through appreciative witnessing, every individual has the power to illuminate the unique qualities, talents and abilities that other people possess. When people have a more profound sense of their own value and potential, they experience themselves as a consequence to be more substantial, rich and whole. When people have a deeply felt sense of their own substance they see the light in the world, the transcendent and inclusive reality of the world being a big ecology.

    They also recognise the value of their own contribution to that ecology and by extension the value of all other beings that share their world. Light also implies wisdom and values. Spreading light in this sense means creating more appreciation of how the worlds of individuals, groups and cultures can cohere together into a harmonious order. This is the true definition of peace.

    The whisper of a candle flame symbolises the power of truth to speak for itself. The test needs to be no more than the resonance of the ideas in the heart, the scrutiny of common sense and rationality, and the transcendence and inclusivity of the ideas that make them universal.

    I believe that these ideas are worth spreading for their potential to create a world that is more inhabitable through solving complex social problems using simple methods of re-humanising interaction that can be taught to virtually anybody.

    An appreciative world is one in which people view each other as sources of richness and potential as opposed to competition and threat.

    In such a world, you have a tangible felt and deeply understood sense of your intrinsic value and potential which gives rise to greater self-respect and self worth.

    This results in you taking yourself on a physical, psychological, and spiritual level. It would give you the motivation and inspiration to take your talent and potential seriously.

    This in turn gives rise to a sense of optimism and hope for the future. This net result would be more self-care, more commitment and investment in realising your potential and a bright future.

    The natural outgrowth of this experience of your own humanity is the realisation that other people, albeit that they are not always aware of it, have the same value and potential. This leads to you treating others as allies in co-creating a shared resourceful world, bringing peace and harmony into their lives.
    The possibility exists for this vision to take root in communities from a pre-school, primary and high school level. I would like to see it in homes, enhancing personal growth and family relationships.
    It is possible that appreciative living could be used in organisations, enhancing personal and team effectiveness, fostering a deep and real appreciation of the richness in diversity and enhancing leadership and management skills.
    This approach could be adopted by therapists, mentors, teachers, community leaders and coaches who have the power and the opportunity to participate in creating a more appreciative world.

    In a society or community where there is a fatalistic approach life, one witnesses people from an early age engaging in high risk sexual behaviour, violence and addiction.

    The breakdown of values manifests also in the disintegration of the fabric of society manifesting in marriage and family breakdown, corruption and high levels of crime.
    These social phenomena show that people are adopting a self-centred survivalist approach to life rather than one which is ecological and creative.
    An appreciative society is one that is values and ethics based.
    If people take their own lives and the lives of others more seriously, then they would be naturally receptive to learning how best to do this. Learning about and applying values makes sense to people who appreciate the value of their own and the lives of others.
    An appreciative society would be characterised by more compassion, good-will and mutual respect. An appreciative society is one in which people perceive themselves as contributors to a larger ecology for the benefit of the greater good.