Erik Richardson

Teacher, Richardson Ideaworks, Inc.


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To voluntarily set the Charter for Compassion before us as our goal and our guide for participation in TED Conversations

I am surprised and disheartened by some of the hostility and insularity I have seen in the discussions here. That we can model rational, civilized discourse, even in the throes of heartfelt disagreement—in fact *especially* in the throes of heartfelt disagreement—is more important to the potential for progress represented by this TED experiment than any of the particular arguments we might (hope to) pursue here.

We have the choice before us: to evolve intellectually and emotionally in a way, and on a scale, not capable before in human history, or to reinforce the prison walls and bars created by every petty intellectual urge to win the debate, prove that you or I are smarter, or to cling to traditions and caricatures of "the other".

  • Apr 19 2011: What's wrong with a bit of spirit in the disagreements? It just means people feel strongly about their positions. 100% unemotional, rational discourse would grow old in a real hurry. Sure, there should be limits, but let's not squeeze all the passion out.

    Your second paragraph posits a straw man. The choices are not as stark as you say.
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      Apr 19 2011: Revett, who said anything about supressing our individual spirits?

      You and I have disagreed on many issues and yet, for the most part been very civil and sincere. Who said that we have to lack passion to be constructive? You have made points that informed and influenced me and I hope I have made some that made you think too. All Erik is proposing is that we remain civil and open minded. That's doable don't you think?
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        Apr 21 2011: Nicely said, Debra. I also think it makes an important difference as to WHICH emotions are involved, and TO WHAT DEGREE the various emotions are clouding our reason. Plato offered a nice metaphor in which we are the charioteer being pulled by two horses - emotion and reason. We need them both, and if either is given too much rein, our progress is hindered or halted altogether.
  • Apr 19 2011: Erik, thanks for bringing it up. The discourse has been disappointing in some cases, and is an example of why we have so many challenges coming to terms with very pressing issues.
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    Apr 19 2011: Eriik, Thanks for your suggestion and your leadership in this matter. I am in complete agreement with you. I too have often been disheartened by the words and tone of some of the debates or discussions. If we do not aspire to something better here at TED what hope is there for people facing generational conflicts?
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    Apr 19 2011: A little extreme, but I agree.

    Cannot blame the masses though, academic education doesn't enforce to be open-ended in thought, so for 12 - 13 years people practice memorizing and conformity to a system within a system.

    I find strong beliefs with facts (or vice versa) to be far more useful for learning/creating than just facts or strong beliefs.

    Capitalism is a great example: There is more than one way to think about it. First what capitalism 's foundations are as an ideology. What allows/enforces capitalism to be functional. Lastly, what capitalism has become beyond the ideology.