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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  • Jul 13 2013: If we are ever going to get to the bottom of real issues, we need to be able to go much deeper than this.

    Society is actually grown, not built. We cannot simply stack independent blocks on top of or around each other in an array and say that it is truly representative of reality. On the contrary, evolution suggests it is a multi-causal process, and not by any means a linear one.

    Ideologies branch off of each other like roots in the ground, and roots seek out water and nutrients in order to survive. People are no different...for where people feel fed, they will congregate and attempt to flourish. This is a major draw to religion. However, the unchangeable ideologies and stories contained within their scriptures presents a naturally fractal pattern from developing, and intellectual evolution ceases to exist because the stories are merely repeated over and over again, while those that follow them continue to expect a different result by repeating them even more.

    People will fight as long as they feel threatened. It's a primal instinct, and it will cause them to increase in size, volume, and motion, just as any threatened animal does. So, at the core of feeling threatened is fear, but there are many types of fear.

    A few fears readily evident by the tunnel vision that is mimicked by the pattern of the "straight and narrow" are these:

    1. The Fear of God
    2. The Fear of the Devil
    3. The Fear of Change (which is firmly embedded into the idea of an unchanging and invisible deity, as it is the classic presentation of the flight response).
    ...and ultimately, a society that cannot bring itself to change is subject to the final occluding fear:
    4. The Fear of Things Staying the Same.

    Address fear, and you will address the problems people have with government, for at the end of the day, people simply want to feel as if they truly matter.

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