TED Conversations

Casey Kitchel


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When fighting for rights, which is tougher: a battle against an oppressive government, or a battle against an oppressive society?

Manal al-Sharif opens her TED talk by asking the audience a question.

“You know that people all over the world fight for their freedom, fight for their rights. Some battle oppressive governments. Others battle oppressive societies.” And then she asks, “which battle do you think is harder?”

Fellow TEDers, which do you think is a tougher battle? And why?


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  • Jun 23 2013: Here in Brazil We are now going through this kind of Situation an I think that against the government is harder because the polititions generally are people from other generations that are tied to their "old point of view" and most of the time, don't want to change some things and thoughts. Nowadays, When people from a society wish something different, they have ways to talk and share feelings and wishes with lots of people mostly through the ways of internet. But the polititions think they have the fource beside them, and most of the time they try to infource their decisions upon the society.
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      Jun 24 2013: Since you speak about the older generations as "them", I take it, you belong to younger generation. As I grew up from generation of youth to the generation of parents, I have noticed interesting things. My children are, in many ways, exactly like me - habits, character traits, even the way they look. And they often view ME as their oppressor - I'm limiting their freedom, dictating my choices, etc.

      Sometimes, I see the iconic picture of Che Guevara on T-shirts. Apparently, the picture symbolizes a fight for a change and stands for many ideals embraced by today's youth. He died relatively young (39). Consider that he was an ally of Fidel Castro. Look at Cuba and Fidel now.

      Revolution in Russia in 1917 had the same aspirations of ending the century-old oppressive regime. I don't know if you had a chance of seeing Soviet leaders on TV in 1980's.

      Who are these "old people" resisting to change? It's hard to believe, but they ARE the people who were young and rebellious 60 years ago.

      This begs a question: why is oppression still there? Who is oppressing whom?

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