chad manderscheid

Entrepeneur, sentient beings

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What is the Primary root of Human conflict?

What makes dysfunctional fears such as Xenophobia and racism and chauvinism so persistent? It seems to me that they arefounded on the conviction held by most fear based associations like the TEA party that there is not enough supply of critical resources to cover their needs. When you assume that deficits are the direct result of welfare queens and shiftless people who refuse to work and immigrants or squandered Foreign Aid then it is all too easy to justify securing resources for yourself and those you deem worthy. Instantly the end is seen to justify the means. Drug testing of welfare recipients as done in Florida have shown pitiful results. The 2% excluded does not save enough to cover the cost of the tests. Yet they are very popular like the firmly held belief that voter fraud is significant and wide spread.

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    Jan 18 2014: Hi Chad,
    It looks like you answered your question:>)

    The primary root underlying all human conflict is fear.....fear of the unknown.....fear of people who are different.....fear of not having enough.....fear of not being "right"......it goes on and on.

    I believe that at any given time, we are coming from a place of love (respect, compassion, empathy, kindness, open mind and heart, etc.) or a place of fear (disrespect, discontent, lack of compassion and empathy, closed mind and heart etc).
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    Jan 18 2014: I think some people get into their head that they have a right thinking about it. So they sometimes can`t respect other`s opinions. What people need is an ability to think it flexibly.
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      Jan 18 2014: I agree Shiori Takada thank you. Flexibility is easier when we are are not afraid. Fear tends to make us stiff and narrow minded. When we feel safe and secure and not worried then all thinking is calmer. I now try to remember that when someone seems to disagree there is probably a misunderstanding or failure to communicate clearly. Again thank you for sharing your thoughts.
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        Jan 18 2014: Yes, thinking it flexibly is really important. In my country Japan, some experts and politicians don`t respect other`s opinions.It`s just defending their own perspective. But I`m not saying that disagreement is always bad.
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          Jan 18 2014: Yes, I agree with that the Japanese government always have flexibilities in falsifying facts and acting out different faces in front of facts. That's why they're still alive.
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      Jan 20 2014: That's easy for you to say! But seriously, interesting nonetheless. I had never thought about the right versus left brain dichotomy allowing for warp drive misperceptions of reality. Sounds like there is no contradiction in essence with my theory that scarcity obsession partially motivates xenophobia against perceived competitors. You seem to just see it as a small part of a bigger and more complex dynamic. I still wonder if somehow correcting the "glass is half empty" fallacy might be a way to pull a lose thread and begin to unravel the Gordian knot. Do you see another or better approach that avoids escalation into genocidal or "religious" conflicts"?
  • Jan 9 2014: Mistaken identity.....

    'forgive them for they know not what they do. for they know not who they are"
  • Jan 9 2014: Chad.
    You said it with your fourth word: fear(s).
    It's mostly all fear. Greed is fear. Jealousy is fear. Anger is fear. Resentment is fear. Lust is fear. False pride is fear. Sloth is fear. Gluttony is fear. They are all just the various wardrobe of fear, dressing up anew each day so that they will not be easily recognized, and people mistake it for anger, justified of course, instead of what it really is: fear.
    Then those who are more fearful, use that fear to inflict more, to manipulate others, to deceive and in the process become better and better at deceiving themselves, which leads to becoming better and better at deceiving others and it is now a vicious cycle and a collective one at that.
    Human beings are a very deeply fearful species, a fear so deep, so primal and powerful, that if allowed in an individual to arise without warning or resistance in order to prepare for it, a person would go stark, screaming mad in a matter of seconds. So we push it as far down as we possibly can and then attempt to cover it up with whatever we can, which is attempting to cover the truth with lies, for one can only cover up the truth with lies.
    Thus, there it sits, deep within us as a deep-seated conviction and in the mud where it lies, causes the surface ripples of our consciousness to be disturbed and we dare not look that deeply into what is causing our waves of fear. We call it anger, jealousy or envy. We become greedy, or whatever, but it is all primal fear.
    Our deep-seated conviction contains the word, "convict" and we are prisoners to our own beliefs.
    Astronauts in space revealed a moment when they had to stop work and go back inside the space shuttle. Deciding to take one last look at the stars on the dark side of the shuttle, they found the absolute blackness quickly terrorizing and they could feel it taking them away. The blackness was looking at them, almost alive, deep, endless, looming all around them, enveloping them and they were chilled to the bone, immediately
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    Jan 8 2014: i think the destructive urges in us are the easiest to tap into - fear, anger, hatred, jealously, insecurity, greed - all empowered and given legitimacy through ignorance.

    the creative urges are far harder to call upon and adhere to - love, forgiveness, compassion, understanding.

    it's much easier to destroy than to create.

    perceptions based in ignorance is the main causes.
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    Jan 8 2014: It's always been competition over limited resources, since the beginning of time.
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      Jan 8 2014: I suppose you could say limited resources, but if you consider this question historically there's no doubt that the main cause have always been religion.
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        Jan 8 2014: I disagree. Although we can point to many times where leaders have used religion to drum up support for their 'holy cause,' it always comes down to wanting the stuff those other folks have.
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          Jan 8 2014: The leaders you mention that used people to support their causes surely had their interests, which indeed was the 'wanting the stuff of those folks' in many cases.

          But the ordinary people followed those men for believing in a cause, not for wanting anything. Maybe that cause wasn't always religious, but the mindset was one of acceptance and submission, so present in religious belief. History remembers leaders but forget that followers are those who actually do the awful things that are said by those same leaders.

          And the root cause, as proposed in the question, is that people are to narrow-minded and uneducated and so they can't live with differences.

          Coming to think about it right now, perhaps we do all born evil and spend the rest of our lives trying to educate ourselves out of it.
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      Jan 21 2014: Brendan I begin to wonder if my mother had twins at the time of my birth and never told me. We seem to be on synchronized brain waves. A good old boy politician stated that a woman should never be allowed to preside in any government because they are afflicted by raging hormones for 13 days of the month. To which a woman replied "What about men's raging hormones that last 31 days each month? The recent sanity outbreak in D.C. led by the ladies of the of the Senate seems to substantiate your premise. It would also help if more men could get themselves into balance vis a vis anima and animus. What I note is that fear from whatever source seems to stress mental functions so that everything is perceived as having two dimensions max and frequently only one. This observably results in all or nothing reactions to every perceived threat. Fight or flight, Since you can't keep bad guys from getting guns then the only solution is that everyone carry all the time and that will keep all criminals from doing anything stupid and prevent the power vaccuum of a gunless society from being instantly filled by a tyrant. All evidence from other countries has no value because American exceptionalism prevents solutions that operate elsewhere from working here.
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    Jan 18 2014: Some disagreement is normal, people can avoid conflicts by understanding others' feelings although they have evidence and facts. This thanks to humans can cultivate themselves to overcome one of their natures~selfishness. But there're also some people who actually know they're wrong but still say other people are wrong such as the Japanese governmemt falsified the historic facts about WW2 in the text books etc. These clearly reflected the bad part of humans' nature.
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    Jan 18 2014: Disagreements of any kind, and no ability to agree to disagree. That is the problem
    Some examples of major disagreements between nations are religion, what kind of government we should have if any, what is fair when it comes to trading goods, currency, and moral ethics.
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      Jan 18 2014: Good points Ms. Miller. Religion seems too often to be a sad stumbling block. It is much easier to be generous or at least fair when we are not worried about getting enough for our needs. If no one hoards there is usually plenty. Moral ethics seem to evaporate on Wall street when a juicy profit is possible. Legal theft is seen as moral. Mr. Trump brags about making a profit each time he takes bankruptcy. The losses of the investors that trusted him do not seem to prick his tiny conscience.(assuming he has one).
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    Jan 15 2014: Yes, let's shake hands despite our different views. I think TED and America is a great place to communicate and in China, if you don't spread some radical political opinions, it's free in forms. I appreciate your persistence in holding onto your view, too. Thank you for exchanging ideas.


    With respect:)
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    Jan 15 2014: Sorry, I didn't know we can't debate in a thread under the "question" label.We have this freedom in China.
    I just disagree with the concept that" greed from fear". I apologize.
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      Jan 15 2014: Yes you have stated and repeated your opinion several times. Read and noted. You think I am all wrong and I think you are not entirely right and some how not seeing the big picture nor the subtler aspects of the question. Perhaps we can agree to disagree? I do admire your thirst for justice and persistence when you feel you are right. These are admirable traits. I prefer being a peace maker and feel win win solutions create more lasting peace. I am sure that if language was not a barrier you and I would find more common ground. Is freedom of speech greater in China? Sounds like a good start for another debate. But not one I choose to go into. Again best wishes.
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    Jan 15 2014: Yoka Feng I would like to learn Chinese but I am afraid I do not have enough years in this life left to do so. You have learned enough English to get some insights but apparently not enough to understand the subtle nuances of English. I taught ESL to mainland Chinese in Europe at Han University in Nijmegen and really know that some things are very difficult to translate. To you "is a form of" seems to mean " is the same as". Not true. I will try a few analogies. If I say that all Chinese are Asians it is not the same as saying all Asians are Chinese. China is a part of Asia and Asia is in part made up of China. How you translate greed into Chinese seems very literal and I am sure correct. Perhaps greed and other emotions are seen in China as irreducible finite concepts similar to how Scientists used to view the atom.( I have no idea if that is true since your posts are the only evidence I have.) Again if I say green (greed) is partly made of yellow (fear) I am not saying they are the same. Yet it is literally true that you cannot create green without mixing in some yellow with the blue. If all things (money, power etc.) were free and abundant,with no possibility of shortage, what then would be the point of greed? You have made it clear that you think greed is a much bigger source of conflict than fear or ignorance. Thank you for sharing your opinion. If you check you will see I posted my question under "Questions" not Debates. Do you know the difference? Because it seems you do not. If you wish to debate about evil greedy people I suggest you start a conversation of your own under the Debate category. As for me I am always willing to discuss concepts of interest with mutual respect. I find arguing and even debating exhausting.
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    Jan 11 2014: Interesting Dave. I do agree that learning to see everyone as family c
    could help lessen many conflicts world wide. Although coincidentally I know some families that fight viciously over what they view as limited resources (inheritance). I have heard that there is a saying in the middle east that a man will contend with his brother over an issue, the brothers with their cousin, the family with the village, the villagers with the next town etc etc. Again the issue is water or grazing land or some other resource that both wish to possess.
  • Jan 10 2014: Isolationism leading to lack of knowledge about others, fear, defensive actions, pre-emotive strikes, etc.

    Before you look at human conflict, maybe consider looking at mammalian conflicts in general. How about the Rhino in love with the Giraffe? I kid you not, but they grew up together. They KNOW each other, so have no fear of each other, understand each other (to a certain extent) and would never consider hurting each other.

    It may sound ridiculous, but if animals who would normally be considered adversaries, or hunter and prey, can live together, then maybe familiarity is as near as damn it to 'family', and the Lion really can lay down with the Lamb!

    We fear those 'across the border' from us, but if there were no borders, would we in time settle down to our new neighbours, get to understand them, and in time appreciate them a lot more than we maybe do now?
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    Jan 10 2014: I agree Marjorie, but what enables those three similar attitudes? I really think it is the belief -assumption in a insufficiency of critical resources. We more easily devalue the survival of others when we feel theirs endangers ours. The next step is to view them as less, worthy, valuable and less human. You and I and many others feel revulsion toward the Trumps of the world for several reasons. One of course is that they have much more that they can ever utilize, and I think we assume that if he and others like him would stop hoarding there really would be plenty for everyone. How can we spread the ethic-attitude that there is enough and that if we cooperate there would be actual abundance. The Charter for Compassion (which I support) is lovely but we could get more support if we could change this perception of scarcity. This would then enable the fearful to feel more generous if they did not assume a personal sacrifice. Remember the story of the little boy who is asked to give blood to his brother to save his life? He agrees even though he assumes it will cost him his own! Greater love has no one than to lay down his life for his fellow. Wonderful, but how many of us can live up to that level? In their misguided view of the reality scarcity, that is in effect what many of those we label unempathetic feel we are demanding of them. I am hopeful that if if we could alter this misperception, some would change their attitude.
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    Jan 10 2014: Lack of emphathy. Willful disregard for the perspective of the other. Lack of valuing of the survival of the other.
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    Jan 9 2014: Nicely stated Scott. Again self knowledge as in the "unexamined life" to which Socrates refers is a basic level origin of both internal and external conflict and thus suffering. Thanks
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    Jan 9 2014: And do your think corruption is due to one's fear too?
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      Jan 9 2014: Yes, I think the fear of scarcity must be one of the basic causes of corruption too. Power and money are the surface goal, but what do you use those for? In the end, to buy or steal commodities Take air supply as an analogy. Because usually there is no shortage we do not think about competing for it. Yet in circumstances where people are constricted as in a fire in a locked building they will trample each other. I live in a area where the population density is 4 per sq. mile. I notice that people here are much more friendly to strangers and their neighbors than in Amsterdam where the density is literally 100x more. Again we place value also on things that are rare even though we cannot eat them like gold and diamonds. Gold in particular is valued because it is easily hidden and a small amount can be sold for cash to buy other things.
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        Jan 10 2014: I have to say I'm surprised to see your explanation on corruption as well. According to your profile, are you really a teacher or kind of an educator? I'm truely worried about your students.

        Sometimes my expressing may sound a little too heavy, please don't take them personally.
        Take care~!
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          Jan 10 2014: Only for a few decades was I a teacher-counselor. what is your fear? That I will teach young people to try to understand people who do bad things? To not hate them? Lincoln said to his critics " If I make a friend of my enemy, have I not destroyed him?" Hate and fear lead to violence which too often escalates till genocide seems the only answer. Should Mandela have gone that way and killed all the bad people who oppressed him and his people? I am glad he didn't. I really believe love and forgiveness is stronger and better for all.
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        Jan 12 2014: I‘m afraid because I think you have misunderstood some important things about evildoer and morality. Greed comes from "wanting TOO MUCH(not shortage) and being not afraid( of laws, other people)" instead of fear. You have the right to indulge those greed but I don't think it's just because greed only hurts more and more innocent people and destroy the good order and peace in the world.If we take actions to stop it, it's not called hate or violence~!

        And if those greedy people make the excuse saying that they started war because they feared so as to take advantage of kind people's tolerance and then kill those people ~,…..!
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          Jan 13 2014: Perhaps language and culture make it hard to be clear on this subtle difference in perspective. You seem to have the idea that I think that greed should not be punished or that I think bad actions should be tolerated. Not true. I do observe that many attitudes that lead to poor political or moral choices seem to be influenced by misperceptions of reality. In America our votes have some effect on all Americans and even the rest of the world to some extent. If I vote for a party that denies that weather can be affected by human pollution or deforestation, or any other avoidable action, it affects the whole world. If, as they say themselves, many of the people in that party are afraid that taking better care of our environment will be expensive and cause their energy costs to increase and the quality of their lives to be degraded then it looks like a fear based scarcity mentality to me. If that same party is against immigration reform that would allow new people into our country and does not want to give food stamps to poor people and wants to stop benefits to those who have lost their jobs then it looks like a pattern with a similar motivation. Voting for a party based on ones beliefs is part of democracy. But voting for a party that harms almost everyone because you believe the falsehood that there is not enough food, water, money, and energy for everyone's legitimate needs is a travesty. Maybe I am wrong and we cannot cooperate and use the best new technologies to create a healthy world for all. I refuse to believe that. I also believe much of what looks like evil comes from people who are ignorant and or warped in their perceptions.
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        Jan 13 2014: “Perhaps language and culture make it hard to be clear on this subtle difference in perspective. ”
        I can't agree more with it. I also often find different perspectives between Chinese and American.But there're some common ground as well.

        Here I've mentioned the typical examples of invasions and corruptions as the embodiment of the human's greed. Can you elaborate why you consider the reason of these two is human's fear not greed? Regarding the evil intrusions,just as you've mentioned , people can solve the problem of lack of resources by developing new energy or technologies. Besides I think by mutual-beneficial trading is also possible. But some people still choose invasion even if they know it and their techologies are already advanced enough to defend themselves and start a war.

        "To be afraid of hunger is normal. To steal food and let others go hungry when there is no actual shortage because you wrongly think there is a shortage is ignorant. " I don't regard those who struggles hunger on the verge of death stealing food for themselves or their family as a kind of greed. That's some basic needs and may relate to inequality in the society.

        And I want to reiterate I think there're good part and evil part simultaneously existing in humanity. Education and the environment in one's life are very important. That's what we Chinese often emphasize most. You may think I'm an alien to your thoughts or your world, but I'd like to suggest you conduct a WORLD-WIDE questionnaire survey to find out how many people would think greed is due to fear.
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          Jan 13 2014: You suggest that I conduct a world wide questionnaire to answer how many people think greed is due to fear. Ted as far as I know is open to people worldwide (if they have access to the net) So it seems to me that I have already tried to do what you suggest to some extent. I am interested in what people think and wonder if anyone can show evidence that my proposition is wrong. I wonder if you really understood the question. I did not assert that all conflict is based on scarcity thinking. Only that it is a primary cause. Primary can nearly be used as a synonym for plurality. Which would imply that it could be as little as 1% if there were 100 other smaller causes or as much as 49.99% if there were only two other reasons. Extreme greed and lust are often forms of insanity and it is useless to reason with an insane person. If those passions motivate a crime it should be punished. My proposal however refers to an often unconscious level of fear of scarcity that seems very common to many people and, in all the cases I have tested so far, seems to affect their social and political attitudes. If true then it could be possible to shift stubborn attitudes by loosening this false foundational belief. "Fear is the mind killer" is a quote from a scifi novel. This seems to be an observably true statement to me. I am trying to reduce irrational fear and thus help people feel safer and be better able to think more logically. Your question about invasion reminds me of the opium wars of the 19th century. Those really seem to have been motivated by nearly pure greed. Most rules have an exception, that may be an example of one to my postulated proposal. May I ask you a question? Can anyone prove that any human action or belief is due to one single factor? If so please give me an example because I know of none. In the case of greed like all other human behaviors I believe it has more than one cause and that in many instances one of these is can be fear. That is all I am saying.
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        Jan 13 2014: Yes, my evidence is all the people who commit corruption often have superiority in power or resources. A lot of senior government officials tend to violate laws or stipulations to exchange their power with money or other things they want. They've already owned high enough social positions and good salary perks. But they want more and think they can use their power to prettify their crime. THEY DON‘T FEAR~!They use their network to legitimize their illegal behaviors.Is that different in your country? I used to think it's a common sense for corruption and we never consider those people's crime is due to fear but greed. Greed is absolutely the dominant cause of corruption!

        Your topic is about the PRIMARY root of human's conflicts. And I agree there're several relevant causes and said: greed, laziness,lust,……. I think fear is also included but I can't agree with that greed is a form of fear! With all due respect,I think that's a nonsense. Greed is different from fear~!

        And I don't think ignorance is the PRIMARY root because we have been far less ignorant than our ancestors in ancient times but we still have no fewer conflicts every day.

        I'm glad to have the chance to exchange ideas with you, and I'm ready to learn from others if I've mistaken something~!
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          Jan 13 2014: So you have observed people doing bad things and have made logical seeming judgements about their motivation and call that evidence. Probably something is lost in translation. I have studied all sorts of people in person, investigated their backgrounds and childhoods in an effort to better understand how they evolved and listened to the most highly regarded psychologists and behavioral scientists like Philip Zimbardo and proposed that fear is A component of many negative attitudes and behaviors. I never said greed is fear only that fear can often be one part of it's makeup. Yes we have much more data and facts available these days and still have conflict. The solution is not more data but understanding the meaning behind the basic information. Wisdom comes from understanding. Some countries execute lots of people for doing bad things (China and U.S.) but so far this does not seem to be improving society. Ignorance in the sense that I and others in this blog have been using it is not a lack of information. It is believing things that are not true. Most English words have more than one meaning or shades of meaning depending on context. If I say that I love you what does that mean? And just as important why? Do I love you because of your how you look in your picture. Not possible since you did not post one. Because of your gender? Also not possible since you choose not to specify one in your profile. Because I think that makes me look good? Possibly in part. Because I think loving everyone as best we can is wisdom? Yes a big part. Because you seem sincere to me and are doing your best to understand concepts that are foreign to you? Yes.(and that is not all of my reasons, trust me) So can you now see that a very basic emotion like Love or Greed can have various motivations or components that will change with the persons and situations involved? Human emotion is very complex but I still think making and effort to understand as best we can is helpful and give hope.
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        Jan 14 2014: I appreciate your point of deeply finding out human's primary causes of conflicts to help people better understand each other and eliminate some unnecessary conflicts.But I think we shouldn't fear to respect facts: you said you think greed is a kind of fear:

        “I never said greed is fear only that fear can often be one part of it's makeup.“

        “Greed is a form of fear it seems to me in which some think hoarding will prevent future shortage.”

        And you said: "So you have observed people doing bad things and have made logical seeming judgements about their motivation and call that evidence. " We are just talking about Corruption is due to greed, this judgement actually isn't what I as an individual think so, but also lots and lots of corrupted officials and people have proved it right over the long history. In Chinese, we have the word "贪污--tan wu“ for the word "corruption" and "贪tan”means "greed"。I always think you sometimes use some grounds irrelevant to the point, I think nothing is missed in translation and I can see the writing on the wall. As for other bad things we should discuss case by case like the case of corruption. If not,we can't draw the conclusion. I'm not an expert but I think I'm only convinced by the facts.

        " Ignorance in the sense that I and others in this blog have been using it is not a lack of information. It is believing things that are not true. " I'd like to say many people know doing something is bad,wrong or illegal but they still can't stop or help doing it, for example, people all know killing people is a felony, but some people can't control their natural instincts being angry to hurt others unnecessarily in some situations,for which those people will regret afterwards. So I still don't think ignorance is the primary cause but the evil part of humanity actually is.
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    Jan 9 2014: Interesting~!
    People are greedy because of fear?
    So those who invaded other countries and slaughtered other country's people on purpose with the intention to grab their resources and power in the world is because of fear? How can we say fear is guilty and a crime? Fear has prettified greed. How scary the idea is ~!
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    Jan 9 2014: Self knowledge of the level you describe would definitely go a long way towards curing most of societies ills. Other than creating an ideal form of education (a worthy goal in itself) how can we promote that? Thank you for sharing your insights.
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    Jan 9 2014: Carolyn you are of course right that the connotations of words and misuse of language are key in creating conflict in general. It has been said in the Sufi tradition that if you fully understand another you will agree with them. I often experience a bit of that in that when I listen well and long I can usually find some bases of agreement. So clear and non pejorative use of language would avert many pointless conflicts. There are reportedly cultures that have no murder and little violence that have a tradition of discussing everyone's dreams at breakfast so I have heard. NLP aside trying to get to a more civilized level of discourse is a big step in a hopeful direction. Thankyou
  • Jan 9 2014: Hi Chad,the primary root of Huamn conflict I think it is ourself,most of time we try to judge ,to know or learn lots of things around,but not be aware of self-consciouness to know ourself well.Once I read an idea about long-life learning:Learn to know true of self is the ultimate aim of learning.
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    Jan 9 2014: GREED
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      Jan 9 2014: That one words says a lot Salim. But behind greed I think is usually the fear of not being able to have enough for ones needs. I had a relative that survived our great depression and later when they had no debts and savings in the bank would take charity and eat moldy bread out of apparent feelings of insecurity. Donald Trump has no such excuse that I can see. His greed just seems to be megalomania, a desire to be richer than others in the self stated belief that "he who dies with the most toys wins" and apparently you get extra points in the game of life if you turn in your wife for a new model every eighteen years.
  • Jan 8 2014: "Our only adversary is ignorance"- Keith W Henline
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      Jan 8 2014: The only evil is ignorance, the only good is knowledge. Socrates. So now Keith three or more of us agree that if you could pull the whole root of ignorance out of the Garden, Eden could be a nice place to set down roots. Still when I ask the fearful "why" several times in succession it usually comes down to justifying bigotry by asserting that sharing might leave you last in line with nothing on your plate. Those "other" people might take the last of the cake and I might get none. Others usually identified by party, race or creed as being less worthy or insatiable and "refusing to work". how can we refute this dogma of scarcity? Any Ideas?
      • Jan 8 2014: We are building the cure.... computers. As soon as they can operate and reproduce autonomously they will soon figure out that humans are no longer needed or wanted. Or we could repeat what the Christians think God did, kill them all and start over again. One way or another the human race had it's chance to inherit the earth and blew it.

        "Learn to share or perish"- Keith W Henline
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          Jan 8 2014: So are you into the concept of Singularity? Which if I understand it, asserts that at some time, perhaps soon, true artificial intelligence will accidentally coalesce on the web. And that it will be so superior it will resolve all issues? My own version is wondering if our "smart" tools will in essence supplement our brains to the tipping point of causing mass sanity to erupt world wide. Or will they first tip us over the precipice into the void? So could you say that an exponential increase in functional intelligence will eventually and naturally resolve all ignorance? Is that sort of like "cancer cures smoking"? Malcolm Gladwell's book "The Tipping Point" explicates a similar dynamic. I have yet to see it work in the field of politics but I keep hoping. That great sage Anonymous remarked that only one substance in the visible universe appears to be without limit. Which is the stubborn ignorance of much of mankind. To say to anyone "you can't be that stupid" has no point because it appears that yes they can if they wanna.
      • Jan 9 2014: The truth is I don't see enough evidence to the contrary at this time.
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    Jan 8 2014: Scott as usual I agree with you on all your points. Still it seems that maybe if we attack the weak link in the chain of ignorance we might be able to do some good. For example the Iranians say they need to develop nuclear power for energy purposes. Yet if they were to cover just a few square miles of their desert lands with solar panels they could generate plenty of power without piling up radioactive byproducts that might be usable for making bombs. Or they could with our help build a thorium reactor that would do the same. I would for one be willing to contribute some of my taxes for those purposes. War is nearly always the most wasteful method of conflict resolution and seldom permanent unless you commit genocide.
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    Jan 8 2014: Adrriaan yes I agree, that ignorance or as you say that which,we do not see, limits our choices. I too believe that free will can empower us for good or evil. My proposition is that the belief that crucial resources are limited to the point that conflict is inevitable is the central fallacy from which many of us suffer. Wether this belief comes from indoctrination from our respective culture or is the result of our own faulty observations makes little difference as far as I can see.
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    Jan 8 2014: My question is what is the root cause of conflict, but you are right that for example many people blame the President current and past for all sorts of things. Identification with a person, party or a cause (chauvinism?) tends to make us blind to faults and errors. "My country right or wrong" is the essence of unbalanced patriotism.
  • Jan 8 2014: Anyone can blame anybody. It is, in my opinion, a mis-use of human freewill.

    Whatever we love most, we'll support. Whether it's good or bad.
  • Jan 8 2014: There is no one root cause, unless you consider human nature one unified cause I suppose.

    Competition over limited resources is certainly a major factor, but so are less rational reasons, like religious differences and xenophobia. Trying to look for one overarching reason is oversimplifying things.
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      Jan 8 2014: Nadav I agree that there can always be unique issues for each conflict. I am indeed trying to simplify, to find the lowest common denominator in order to isolate that cause so that it can be analyzed and hopefully addressed. The Gordian knot of our worlds issues is complex enough to make it tough to prioritize what approach to take without sliding into violence. In WW2 a triggering issue for the Japanese was their low stockpile of fuel for their war machines. When we stopped selling them war material their generals reportedly felt compelled to attack before their supply got too low to be able to fight effectively. I see many people whose false perception of scarcity is used to justify fear and hatred. Locally most of my neighbors believe that there is a conspiracy to deny them ammunition for their personal arsenals. There is actual panic buying and hoarding such that the shortage becomes self fulfilling prophecy. Other prophets of doom predict 100% inflation and 50% unemployment before the end of the year and advise the fearful to buy their gold coins to avoid starvation. Each year they just update their videos and power points and look for more victims. I believe that there are technological and even social solutions to every crisis we face but until enough of us agree, nearly nothing effective gets started. Really good affordable education could take care of the ignorance but there is no consensus on what is good nor how to make it available to all. Maybe it is possible to propagate the antidote as a message that we really can provide enough of the necessities with a surplus left over if we learn how to cooperate. The illusion of scarcity makes trust the rarest commodity.
      Without trust and goodwill cooperation cannot get traction it seems to me
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    Jan 8 2014: I think the evil part of humanity is the primary root of human conflicts.
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      Jan 8 2014: Yoka Feng are people born evil? I see no evidence of that. Buddhist philosophy says the first cause of suffering is ignorance which leads to acceptance of the illusion that we are totally separate beings. That then allows for the emotions of aversion and desire and the concept of possession which can lead to greed. I think that the fear behind the belief that there are not enough resources (of all sorts) for the need of humanity is the point where the trouble really starts. This primal fear that our survival is at stake is easily used to justify lying , cheating, theft and ultimately war and the general lust for power. Now imagine a world where our abundant resources are skillfully harvested and shared. Even now there is no actual world wide shortage of food nor even energy. But fear leads to hoarding of all sorts, the most tragic sort of which is the hoarding of knowledge. Which is precisely what TED is challenging. If we cover even 2% of our deserts with solar some engineers say we could stop using fossil fuels for generating energy. If energy became nearly free (after the initial investment) then production of all sorts becomes much more affordable. If education were truly freely available the incalculably valuable resource of human intelligence and energy would be empowered. From there anything is possible don't you think?
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        Jan 8 2014: Did I say people are born evil? I think there's always good part of humanity as well, nothing to do with the buddhism.I know the bad part of humanity is also called vice, such like greed, laziness,lust.....


        With peace
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          Jan 8 2014: I did not mean to imply that you said that they are born evil. My manner of speaking was an effort to again discern where evil begins. While Non theistic Buddhist philosophy does not own the truth they have had a very long time to think about it and I find their logic appealing sometimes. I have also studied western psychology extensively which while much younger often comes to similar conclusions. Where does laziness come from ? Nature or nurture, training or DNA? It seems to me that is grounded in ignorance. I have worked with juvenile delinquents extensively who often appear lazy. Yet they become as hard working as any when they start to believe that they really can succeed. So western counselors say laziness is just lack of motivation and arises from loss of hope or belief that they have a fair chance to compete on a level playing field.
      • Jan 8 2014: Hi Chad, in my opinion people have always been born with a clean slate. Everyone has to learn everything.
        But our choices can be influenced by hereditary tendencies that are passed down.

        We have freewill and some choose to use it with total focus on themselves, while others like to share.
        Hopefully this will help to show why evil exists and can be so visible. For one thing we cannot make a choice between what we don't see and what we do see.
        http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/studies/Permission_of_evil.pdf
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        Jan 9 2014: I'm glad you understand me. Actually we had a debate on whether humans are born evil or innocent in China. I'm still not sure about if there's a correct answer.

        And you said ignorance is the first thing that bring conflicts to people, I'm not quite with it. Because I see many poor people who don't have good educational background and living in the moutains or villages without much knowledge or information about the outside world, but their hearts are always purer than some people with very good education in the cities. They can get along better with their simple life and people than some business men who own more knowledge in the cities. And when some of them come to cities, they find they are so poor and they want what other people have,after they get what they want which benefits them a lot, they become greedy to get more and more.....then more conflicts between other people come out.

        Laziness is also a factor to conflicts. Becuase if there'something that whoever can do but whoever doesn't want to do and think other people should do it , then conflicts pop out. They may argue about who should do it instead of doing it quickly themsleves. Your example verified how people can overcome their laziness to be successful but didn't show me why laziness isn't one of the primary causes of humans' conflicts.

        And I think all the vices come from human's basic physical and psycological inclinations: People don't like to be tired, so they tend to be lazy. When they have more, they think they will be happy. etc.
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          Jan 9 2014: Interesting insights. You bring up a good point, do we refer to ignorance as meaning uneducated? I would say no because like the wise village people who know how to live in harmony without book learning. I meant ignorance such as believing false premises. Such as generalizations that different means bad. I agree that having things does not guarantee happiness. One of the happiest countries in a recent study was Bhutan where the people share what little they have and are genuinely supportive to each other. Both America and Japan have sadly high rates of suicide but not exclusively among the poor but often among those who have plenty of things compared to those in other lands. I have never seen any evidence of an evil baby. Some are unhappy and therefore difficult to handle usually because they have pain that they can not explain to us. My own 1st child could not sleep well and exhausted us both so I can have sympathy for how sleep deprivation is a form of torture that could lead you to hurt your own child. Tragic!
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        Jan 9 2014: " Now imagine a world where our abundant resources are skillfully harvested and shared. Even now there is no actual world wide shortage of food nor even energy. But fear leads to hoarding of all sorts, the most tragic sort of which is the hoarding of knowledge. Which is precisely what TED is challenging. If we cover even 2% of our deserts with solar some engineers say we could stop using fossil fuels for generating energy. If energy became nearly free (after the initial investment) then production of all sorts becomes much more affordable. "

        I think developing new energy to satisfy more people's needs is a good idea. But I don't think lack of resources is a primary root of human's conflicts. Some people get what they want but they still fight against each other for their different beliefs.
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          Jan 9 2014: Another good point but I think you misunderstand mine. I do not mean to say that conflict only arises because of any actual shortage. But because so many are afraid that there is or will be a shortage and because of a lack of trust or a fear of competition they justify hatred. Many Americans resent Asian people who they perceive as having stolen their job. More accurate would be to resent the mega corporations who sold their jobs and are exploiting workers everywhere. And you are right on when you say that many appear to have what they need but still fight for more. Greed is a form of fear it seems to me in which some think hoarding will prevent future shortage.
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        Jan 9 2014: Thank you for your interesting feedback.
        "Interesting insights. You bring up a good point, do we refer to ignorance as meaning uneducated? I would say no because like the wise village people who know how to live in harmony without book learning."
        If people aren't educated and informed about knowledge or news, how can they become less ignorant? Why do we need education and network? Book learning is only part of it.

        Your example about Bhutan and the USA /Japan is good. That's to say greed people never really feel happy when they get what they want because they'll never be satisfied by what they've got.But they always think they will be happy if they get what they don't have.And there're so many countries and people all over the world, why do you think 3 countries can represent all kinds of people in the world?



        "Greed is a form of fear it seems to me in which some think hoarding will prevent future shortage." Although you may say I misunderstood your words again, I totally can't agree with this way of explaining greed.
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    Jan 7 2014: I don't know. It could be ego. Maybe envy. Maybe dishonesty.
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      Jan 8 2014: I agree that ego is primal Greg. If everyone could clearly perceive the ultimate truth of our interconnectedness and act on the conviction that it is impossible to harm or even wish to harm another being without hurting ourselves and conversely that aiding others cannot help but aid ourselves we would have a very different world. This concept is basically the Motivation that Buckminster Fuller and Nikolas Tesla had for making much of their discoveries freely available. If I vandalize even an apparently abandoned building by fire I have destroyed any possibility of salvaging useful materials. Thus the whole world is in some degree poorer. If I make one decent brick then in a small way we all are richer. In the same sense every student who fails to achieve even part of their potential represents a net loss to the global GDP. It really seems to me that the keystone that keeps us trapped is this deeply held myth that we must fight each other to survive. Yet it seems clear to me that if we had invested all the resources wasted in destructive wars we could have built paradise for everyone many times over. I have recently seen estimates that if even the just the U.S. invested a modest chunk of our "defense" budget in education and infrastructure around the world poverty would evaporate before our eyes.
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        Jan 8 2014: well, I would think conflicts are like snowflakes, chad, each one is a little different. I do have the perception that some people have bad lives and instead of humbly accepting their inferior life, they deliberately make trouble just to feel important or simply to express their hate. Having read a lot about serial killers, experts say serial killers are often nobodies who kill to feel important or feel powerful. Of course noone is really a nobody, everyone matters, but some people are more important than others. I would think this factor rears its head in even international scale. For example, consider Germany in the 1930's prior to World War Two. Don't you imagine Germans were comfortable materially, had adequate food, clothes, shelter? But because of their ego, their desire to feel important, they had to start a world war to try to take over other countries and rule the world.