Bill Davis

Volunteer for charity, SOS Dogs for Autism

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How can you get a wealthy person to be open to compassionate nudging, knowing that compassionate action is its own reward & potentiator?

With limited time and energy and innate resistance to change, we naturally select where we spend our time to continue the path we are on. If we are enthralled by accumulation of things, we will select to attend a lecture on wealth enhancement rather than one on benevolence. You cannot legislate or dictate choice between these two extremes. I spend every discretinary bit of time and energy trying to love my neighbor as I love myself. Sharing resources I am blessed with is the outcome from that investment. If I invest time and energy in becoming personally as rich as possible, I will become self-serving to a greater and greater degree.

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    Jan 13 2014: It is not just the wealthy that accumulate things, poor people do as well. Wealth does not create greed and greed in turn does not belong to the rich or poor. The rich just generally have more power or influence and there influence in turn can have more devastating consequences. It is a tremendous responsibility. Money is just a tool with which some people are more talented and have better luck acquiring than others do. If you want to get people to do thing start by inspiring them and befriending them. Spending time creating wealth does not mean you will become self serving as you suggest. It is your intention that counts as well as what you do with your influence. The notion that people who are not wealthy are somehow more moral than others is very judgmental and self righteous. You won't get people to give if you approach them with that attitude.
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    Jan 11 2014: Bill,
    This question assumes that all wealthy people are lacking compassion? That seems rather discriminatory! I suggest that we might observe people in all socioeconomic situations as compassionate.....or not. Compassion doesn't have anything to do with how much money one has. It has more to do with how a person chooses to "BE" in this world.
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      Jan 11 2014: Colleen,

      Have you seen the related Talk? Paul Piff would disagree with you...
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        Jan 11 2014: Just watched it Jimmy, and I don't really care if Paul Piff disagrees with me or not:>)

        Honestly Jimmy, I don't consider a "rigged" board game with 20 young people as an adequate "study".....interesting, but not conclusive.

        My comment is based only on my own observation and experience for almost 70 years. I have had more and less money at certain times in my life.....going from very comfortable to below poverty level, and I have known lots of both very wealthy and very poor people.

        My observation of myself, did not indicate a change in compassion no matter how little, or how much money I had. My observation of others, both rich and poor demonstrated the same thing.....that money (or lack of) does not necessarily indicate compassion.

        It's only my own observation Jimmy....nothing more or less than that. For me, many years of observing this however, provides a little more evidence than 20 kids playing a "rigged" board game.

        I am really wondering why he had to "rig" the game, deciding who would have more money from the beginning of the game. It seems like it might have provided more adequate information by starting the game on a level field. In my perception, if the "study" is "rigged", like Piff clearly said it was, any information gained from it would be "rigged" as well.
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          Jan 11 2014: When testing something there is almost always something that is rigged to test it, take the case of placebo medicines for example. People are given a sugar pill, rigged to believe that it may have some effects and then observe if they feel those effects.

          This game was rigged just like the same was the "game of life" is rigged. Some are born with more funds, and get to move more easily across the playing field than others. So to me it's a representation of reality.

          And it's not JUST a study of "20 young people playing a board game". He made a lot of examples about other studies as well. On his website you can find 16 well written studies that all point to some aspect of this.


          I'd rather rely on data and studies than personal observations Colleen, as I've found the majority of personal observations to be flawed or biased in their observations and conclusions.

          Interesting side note - Did you know that the game Monopoly was originally designed to show the inherent flaws of the capitalistic system?
        • Jan 12 2014: I agree with Colleen. Being wealthy does not automatically make you greedy or blind to the poverty of others. Likewise, being poor does not mean you are compassionate or generous to others. This administration with the help of the media has painted the wealthy as monsters who care only about money. They fail to recognize the many foundations, charities, hospitals, etc. started by wealthy people that have been largely for the benefit of the poor and indigent.

          Accumulating wealth should be viewed as a healthy opportunity to be able to do more for those in need. The "American Dream" has always been to do the best you can and be rewarded for hard work. Being successful means different things to different people. I believe in working hard and enjoying the fruits of your labor while also sharing with others. That should be the choice of the individual, not the government and certainly not those who would make you feel guilty for having more than others.
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        Jan 11 2014: Like I said Jimmy....what I shared in my comments is only an observation and personal experience throughout my life, and for me personally, that has more value than a "rigged" game with a few kids.

        It is true that some are born into more funding. That is not proof, however, that those born into more money are more or less compassionate.

        No, I didn't know that about the game. I used to play it a lot when I was a kid, and my mother called it "monotony". She preferred scrabble, so for her to play "monotony" with me, I had to play scrabble .....which I learned to love....even thought it was more difficult for me as a mom was a crossword puzzle wiz:>)
  • Jan 10 2014: my take.....


    ....are SYMPTOMS of a 'broader state of awareness' of the apparent individual. They effortlessly EMERGE from this state and there is nothing that is DONE to 'BE' them. This state of existence is only 'found' through enquiry into one's self BY one's self.

    Self Enquiry is best 'taught' to others through simple modeling......not lecturing, nudging, etc.

    We do not nudge fruit into ripening and we do not nudge flowers into blooming. Surrounded by people in various depths of sleep and possibly delusion, we simply keep 'doing' what is effortless for one's self. Everything is proceeding quite naturally. Compassion and Lack of Compassion is part of that natural progression. Peace and Violence is part of that natural progression.

    When we find ourselves thinking someone 'Should' or 'Should Not' Be a certain way, or thinking WE 'should' or 'should not' Be a certain way, we Deny what IS. When we accept fully what IS without judgement and without analysis, a different intelligence arises within.

    Let them BE. Great weekend to ye. :-)
    • Jan 10 2014: Nudging fruit into ripening: Treatment with jasminate or ethylene.
      Nudging flowers into blooming: More techniques than I can remember at the moment.

      It takes a nerd to blow florid language out of the water.
      • Jan 10 2014: I'd say chemical intervention is the prevailing belief.....for nature ain't good enough.
        • Jan 11 2014: Define "nature" vs. "not-nature" in a purely rational, non-arbitrary fashion that doesn't blindly grant some kind of special status to humans.
      • Jan 11 2014: On the division between nature vs not-nature, there is none. What word most inclusively describes the process of 'nature destroying itself?' One which humans resonate with quite personally?

        I challenge you, as nature, to set your anger aside......for we are both nature and your anger has hamstrung you as evidenced by parochial insinuations.
        Forgive my irrationality in advance :-)

        Joking aside, I admire your engagement.
        Let's transition to a dialogue toward truth, for you and I are just two pissant creatures on this earth.
        • Jan 11 2014: Sorry, no anger here, just laughing at the ridiculousness of the modern "nature" cult that infects our society, a cult that sets aside humans and human activity as innately "unnatural" and presumes that "natural" = "good". When someone says "nature ain't good enough" in opposition to human techniques of "nudging" fruit ripening or flower blossoming, that's echoing the language of that cult, whether intentionally or not. Hear hoofbeats, think horses before zebras.

          Nature does not and cannot destroy itself. Nature merely is. Some parts live, some parts die. Some parts kill other parts. In the end, nature simply still is, no less than it was before some part killed some other part. Nature is not even restricted to living things. Minerals are no less nature than any other living thing.

          As for the remarkable success humans have at doing what all other organisms do, it's called "success". Humans merely do what all other organisms do but do it very, very well. There is nothing at all unnatural about what humans do. It's entirely natural. I don't then leap to the conclusion that, since it is natural, it is and must be good or even marginally preferable to some other course of action. Cholera is natural. Who volunteers to catch cholera and let it run its course untreated? Freezing to death is also natural. Clothing and heat are unnatural. Who's volunteering to freeze to death?

          Restraint and husbandry are, if anything, far more "unnatural" than rapaciousness and exploitation. Just look at how fervently every other organism devotes itself to getting as much resource as it can manage and only stops when some other force constrains it. In essence, to oversimplify and reify, virtue is unnatural. There may be times when unnatural might be a better idea.
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    Jan 13 2014: Certainly those that accumulate wealth to share it with those with less are not self-serving. They generally don't accumulate enough to become wealthy however. If you keep the money for yourself or yours, that is the problem. That is self-serving. That leads to some having more than they need and others not enough to have a self-sufficient life.
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    Jan 11 2014: The wealthy often a really bad rap. Some are deserving and some not deserving. The top 25% of tax payers pay 85% of all taxes ... yet they are berated for not paying more ... the lower 50% pay 3% and gripe about it.

    The wealthy do not normally direct money to charities ... the have a financial adviser that do that for them. The advisers are concerned what the deduction rates for the donation will be.

    If you want the donation write a letter to the company / firm / person that will be redirected to the adviser and explain what the charity is and what legal breaks are included and what forms and laws govern the rate of exemption.

    In many cases it is the wife who has the charity decision responsibility .... be aware of her favorites and preferences.

    In short if you do the work for them they are much more likely to donate.

    We think that I. M. Wealthy makes all of these decisions and is cold and calculating and worships money above all. He hires people to manage the money and those are the ones to convince.

  • Jan 10 2014: How can you get a non-wealthy person to be open to compassionate nudging, knowing that compassionate action is its own reward & potentiator?

    Why presume that the "wealthy" are any more innately evil than anyone else might be?
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    Jan 10 2014: Of course, you are right! No nudging as suggested by the TED speaker is going to work. Modeling is the best way of impacting them, if the greedy rich will notice it. Giving them an example of generosity and love is all we can do. No judging or attacking, which tends to be the self-serving rich's thoughts, words and actions, will do anything but increase the distance between the givers and the takers. Thanks for your thoughts on this!
    • Jan 10 2014: Are all "rich" automatically greedy?
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        Jan 11 2014: The adjective "greedy" precedes "rich" in my comment. No, there are some great examples of the rich being generous: Mr. Colgate was giving 90% of his income to charity at the end of his career. Albert Schweitzer gave up all his wealth and went to Africa to treat the poor. I am sure that there a number today too...
        • Jan 11 2014: Never mind, then. Your language unfortunately resembled the very typical liberal/leftist "All rich people are bad." propaganda.
    • Jan 12 2014: Bill,
      Can't you see the hypocrisy in your statements about the "greedy rich" not noticing generosity and love? You are the judgmental one who attacks the rich as being self-serving, but where is your compassion and understanding for others? Do you really believe all rich people are the same and all poor people are compassionate and loving? Wake up and smell the coffee.

      People are people;, rich, poor, and in between. They come in all sizes and shapes. You are using the left-wing liberal mantra of demonizing the wealthy. Tell me, do you also consider politicians who go to Washington D.C. as non-wealthy and somehow manage to accumulate wealth on the backs of the taxpayers? How did Barack Obama, Al Gore, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, become wealthy? Hard work or manipulation of the system? How caring are they about the poor? They all are more concerned with themselves than anyone else. Wealth and power is what they are about.
  • Jan 13 2014: Education. Show them how it works with your own money.
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    Jan 12 2014: Mrs. Speaker, I am so sorry you misunderstood the adjective "greedy" i used before the word "rich" to mean all rich are greedy. It was meant to be a way of differentiating them from the non-greedy rich. Also, I did not say the rich "do not" notice generosity and love. I said "if" they will notice. You have jumped to judge my comments as is typical of right-wing conservative mantra to demonize the non-rich [sound familiar?]. And did I suggest that the politicians you mentioned are not rich or not greedy or that they did not make their wealth by manipulation of the system? The greedy rich know who they are, I suspect. It hurts to find themselves called greedy though, having thought they had hidden it. It may hurt the low income person more though to have the rich make money on their backs.
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    Jan 12 2014: Natural vs unnatural, virtue is unnatural, accommodation in order to survive, some presuming natural is good. There is a part of every living thing that is nature and another that is supranatural. We can think, say & do what our nature deems best until we harm ourselves or are stopped by others we hurt, or by what society deems better. We then can consider, is there a better way? Our the supranatural All Good which every living creature has, but only humans can choose proactively through reason, can be cultivated to overcome our nature, and virtue appears in us. Only when the All Good [God] is chosen over nature by enough humans can society become more just and equality be approached. An environment that is more just and approaching equality can result in peace and joy for all who live in it.
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      Jan 12 2014: Bill,
      Is this conversation about "How can you get a wealthy person to be open to compassionate nudging...." you presented it?
      Or is it about god, as you now seem to be directing the conversation?
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        Jan 12 2014: I interpreted the logic of his query as being first, asking whether wealth inevitably or typically reduces compassion (some in the conversation think the answer is yes, and others believe this is an oversimplified interpretation of the research and inconsistent with their experience) and, if that link is not inevitable but is dominated by people's ability to choose, whether a choice to embrace God or a godliness within, would be a way, or even the only way ("only when the ALL Good is chosen...), to produce compassion.
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          Jan 12 2014: I realize Fritzie, that people have different thoughts, feelings, ideas, perceptions and beliefs about the topic, and I do not agree that humans are compassionate "Only when the All Good [God] is chosen....". There is also references in Bill's other recent comment about Jesus, and what "Jesus desires".

          This looks like a familiar pattern of someone starting a conversation with a certain topic....wealth and compassion in this case....only to discover that s/he would really like to promote a god/religion, which, as we know, is not acceptable because of TEDs terms of use agreement.
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        Jan 12 2014: I don't think asking whether embracing God or a godliness is the only route to compassion is against the terms of use. I don't think mentioning Jesus is either. Aggressive selling of ones religion, on the other hand, is against the terms.

        I agree with you that people's level of material comfort is not a reliable predictor of compassion, and I do not think Piff would interpret his work as saying that people whose material needs are met or exceeded are necessarily less compassionate than those with less material comfort.

        I agree also that there are very compassionate people who are atheists as well as religious people who are not compassionate.

        And I agree with you that people often start conversations that embody an assumption of a problem to which the questioner believes he has a solution.
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    Jan 12 2014: Jimmy Strobl, I rarely start a conversation on TED, but I remember your previous sound comments and followed yours with the lady that believes her personal observations more than science [from my question on TED] Thought you might respond to this: We have in all of us, the All Good, but we act mostly upon what we cultivate, or what we are cultivated by, e.g., greed or generosity. A quote from the 13th century mystic Angela of Foligna: 'He is present in every creature and in everything that has being, in a devil and a good angel, in heaven and hell, in good deeds and in adultery or homicide, in all things, finally, which exist or have some degree of being, whether beautiful or ugly." I submit that the only good that comes from me is the result of this Presence being cultivated by my passion to rush from my bed each day and spend hours connecting to Jesus, as Jesus desires, before I do one other thing.
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      Jan 12 2014: Bill....for clarity.
      It appears that you are referring to me?
      "the lady that believes her personal observations more than science".

      That is not quite true....this is my statement regarding this topic, and the discussion with Jimmy...
      " Like I said Jimmy....what I shared in my comments is only an observation and personal experience throughout my life, and for me personally, that has more value than a "rigged" game with a few kids."
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    Jan 11 2014: As a society, we focus too much on financial success and acquisition of wealth.
    Change would have to start at the individual level; but then there comes the danger of one person thinking that another person is the problem.
    We only have control over our own actions and decisions. In our sphere of influence we should start leading by example.
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      Jan 11 2014: You are so right! In our little sphere of influence, changing ourselves is the only way to change others and eventually the world. Unfortunately, those of us who are focused upon accumulation for ourselves are more influencial than those focused upon generosity and love in our nation today, it appears...
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    Jan 11 2014: Sure, when the top 400 income earners in the nation net the same amount as the bottom 50% of earners [400 compared to over a 100,000,000!], they sure should pay a whole lot more taxes. "If you do work for them they are much more likely to donate," you say. That's not donating at all, but paying for services. No generosity, compassion, or economic equality in that. Most rich got rich by not sharing and will try to stay rich by not sharing. Our tax laws and welfare to corporations [since the rich buy national elections] assure the inequality of income will continue to grow. Go to the financial advisor who gets spedific direction from I.M. Wealthy for charitable donations [if does not bring a tax deduction]? Don't believe you will get a penny out of the rich because the financial advisor is generous.