TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

The Equality Initiative: Being Kind

I recently had to write a paper for a class about a belief of mine. For some reason it took me a while to come up with one, but when I did, the words flowed out of me like water. Unfortunately, that essay is too long to post here, but I would like to give the general synopsis of it here and encourage you to provide feedback and to take these words to heart.
I live and have always lived in the south, I went to church and was taught compassion at a young age. Since then, I try to incorporate consideration and respect into everything that I do. Our world today has a very different view. People are scorned and belittled for their religions, sexuality, ethnicity, gender, and ideology. We have become blind to the people around us and only worry about the jokes we pose around the table. We laugh and carry on at another person's expense. What you say around the dinner table may be harmless (in that you are not going to act on it), but it encourages the actions of the people who do blatantly discriminate and practice prejudice. It is sad how common-place it has become for us to make jokes that are prejudice. It is a social norm, even if you don't do it, you probably do know someone who does.
So my idea is this, simple as it may be, do not tolerate it. Do not idly sit back while people joke and carry on inappropriately. Encourage originality, don't force people to hide who they are. But in all that you do have respect, because you cannot fight hate with hate.
So be kind to a random stranger on the street or that person that gets bullied. Pick up trash on the sidewalk or buy a student coffee. Encourage and inspire, because you don't know how much it could mean to a person struggling with bullies. And always keep an open mind. That should be no issue to the people on TED, but also encourage people around you to do the same.
We need to begin to look as people as people who have their own hopes and dreams deserve to be able to reach for them without fear of attack.

Share:
  • thumb

    . . 100+

    • +2
    Feb 7 2014: Being Kind; Definitely.
    Excellent writing. I hope your paper goes viral in 2014!!
  • Feb 5 2014: Your right to believe stupid things does not place an obligation on me to not make fun of you for it.

    Whether it be Flat Earthers, creationists or proponents of the Laffer Curve and a regressive tax code (high income should play lower %), their silly ideas will not escape ridicule.


    Other than stupid beliefs, yeah. I stand up to anyone that picks on someone else.
    • thumb
      Feb 5 2014: but you don't rush to judgement on what beliefs you think are stupid, do you, it's probably better to investigate something before you declare it stupid?
    • Feb 5 2014: I see what you mean, but there are ways of expressing that you don't believe what the other person believes without completely discounting their ideas. This is a problem that I see in the internet nowadays, people think that other's ideas are "stupid" as you said and instead of saying what is wrong with them in a respectful way, they just post comments degrading the character of the person because they believe in what they say. You don't know why they believe what they believe and their reasons may not be as "stupid" as you think. But, you will never know unless instead of attacking someone for their belief, you evaluate it. No one can change what you believe, likewise you are not going to change what they think by degrading them.
    • Feb 5 2014: Also I appreciate the last comment about how you stand up for people getting picked on. It is so easy to sit back and watch it happen, and I like to encourage anyone who can stand up for those who can do so for themselves.
    • thumb
      Feb 13 2014: I think there's an easy line there.

      When you're using your inner monkey/child in a positive way then you should get to believe all the crazy things you want.

      But if you're trying to influence others (including children) that's when it's time to make sure you're not falling into a fallacy trap of some sort.

      Not everyone agrees, but for those who don't they're making that choice, even if you can't change that you can expose it.

      If our journalists did that we'd be in a much better world, eh?
  • Feb 18 2014: I've definitely had to deal with such moral choices. While some inappropriate jokes may seem funny at the time, it takes a lot to take a step back and consider just what it is about them that makes us laugh. Sometimes I think it is because, like you said, the joke isn't at our expense. I think crassness and immaturity is the result of one experiencing cynicism and maybe using negativity as an outlet helps them feel better. Whatever the case, I agree with you. That being said, I hope you do not mind me advertising my crowdfunding link on your TED idea. I am trying to fund my wedding - its hard to save money with bills and student loans. http://www.gofundme.com/6youv8?preview=1
  • thumb
    Feb 11 2014: Great topic! The first thing that comes to mind is Ghandi's famous quote: "Be the change you want to see in the world". We can't change others but we can change ourselves.

    I have also been trying to perform more random acts of kindness. It is easy for me to give to those I love, but this is helping me reach out to strangers with no expectation of anything in return.
  • Feb 10 2014: I'm also from the south Abigail, we've probably had some similar experiences. It seem that everybody acts very PC when out in public, but when the groups get small and homogeneous behavior changes drastically. Racism and bigotry pop up as if out of no where. I've become pretty confrontational over the years but not in a hostile or self righteous way, as it doesn't seem to help. As often as not people say these things trying to fit in somehow, because they at some point heard someone else say it and that person wasnt called on it. Its amazing the responses you can get by just not laughing at an offensive joke or not agreeing with a bigoted statement. People immediatley become uncomfortable about what they said. You may lose friends like this (but who needs friends like that) but a lot of times if you're not judgemental youxcan get folks to think about these beliefs they hold, sometimes its the first time they've ever truly thought about them or tried to see them frim a different viewpoint.
  • Feb 9 2014: Hi Dear Abigail:)I was away from TED for a long winter holiday trip to one of well-known place in China:ChengDu.You know it is also well-known for it's the biggiest Buddha all over the world there,when I faced the Buddha:oh,my god,I was amazed by it's design and constructure,lots of people prayed for fortunate bliss in front of it.I wonder if Buddha bringsluck to them or they should know clearly:Buddha is the sign of kindness,but if we don't keep it's kindness in our hearts,no matter how many they do in front of budda,nothing will work.

    So be conscious to keep kindness in heart,be kind to others,nature as well as do for ourselves.Kindness not any of thing can present to,but it is a spirit in our bodies and our blood.KIndness is a life,it is contagious.
  • Feb 6 2014: I dig your spirit.
  • thumb
    Feb 6 2014: .
    Yes!
    “Being kind” is symbiosis.
    It is our ancestors’ successful experiences saved in DNA.
    It makes us survive.
  • thumb
    Feb 6 2014: Agreed!
  • thumb
    Feb 5 2014: Many people share your perspective and engage as a matter of principle exactly as you describe. Many pass such values along to their children. I don't know who the "we" are that you describe in your synopsis, but it sounds like a great idea for you to model a kinder, more open-hearted way to them and to speak up against hate and prejudice.
    • Feb 5 2014: Thank you. I was raised in such a home where they taught me to be respectful and I think that is why I wrote this. But as a recently independent person I have started to develop my own ideas on it and have also seen a lot of people not acting with respect towards people that disagree with them, or to anyone.
      • thumb
        Feb 5 2014: Yes, you are right many people are not respectful or appreciative of those who disagree with them or are in some ways different. I am glad you are choosing a path true to your values.
  • thumb
    Feb 14 2014: Hello Abigail,
    Good choice of topic.
    We teach others all the time by the way we live - and the way we live is shaped by our beliefs and concepts.
    I've found that radical self-honesty (challenging my own beliefs) has slowly over the years brought a genuine sense of acceptance and inclusiveness to the surface of my conscious mind, and hence way of living, and hence my "default" teaching.
    The way forward is to dig deeper into the truth about our individual selves - and what do we ultimately find? We find we're all the same as each other - and jokes based on bigotry are just simply illogical.
  • thumb
    Feb 12 2014: Kindness when kindness is warranted is very effective. Delivering hard truths to those who require them in a not-so-sesitive way can seem harsh and can push people far outside of their comfort zones however, brutal honesty when necessary is also warranted and effective.
  • Feb 11 2014: That has nothing to do with "equality".
  • thumb
    Feb 8 2014: Abigail, this is a good idea, but what do you want coming back from us? Almost noone will disagree with you. If someone did disagree with you, almost none of them would admit it in a public forum where anyone can see. Do you just want more ideas on how to be kind besides the ones you've listed? Well, let's see. I try to greet people and make eye contact. Try to shake hands or hug people. Try to listen when people talk. Try to take an interest in other people and ask questions. Try to share what I know hoping it will make other's lives better.

    Here's an easy way you could be nicer to cows, which is to buy organic milk instead of conventional milk. When milk is conventional, it means the milk was extracted on a "factory farm," on a factory farm the cows have a bad life, they have to be crowded together in very small corrals, they lie in the dirt and their own manure. But when the milk is organic, the cows have a better life on an organic dairy farm. For example, here in California, if a dairy farmer wants to call his milk organic, for at least 75% of the year his cows have to graze on a real pasture, where they eat grass that is growing right out of the ground (versus a factory farm, where the grass is cut and brought to the corrals and laid on the concrete right outside the corral.) So you can see the organic cows have it better. Organic milk is more expensive, to me it is worth it.
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Feb 6 2014: Lilly, you know I adore you, but are you real or are you a computer program reciting the same thing endlessly, my dear?
      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          Feb 6 2014: Believe me, dear, I also am a feminist, as you surely know by now. And when I suggest that you might be overdoing it just a wee bit, I should be -and am right now- speaking to myself, for I am so often guilty of the same things, 'Dorable!
      • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Feb 6 2014: My experience indicates, that the term 'idealism' is only used by the resigned to defend their passiveness.

      On them, age is only a measure of decay in hope and the energy they spent on its realization.
    • thumb
      Feb 8 2014: but, lilly, wouldn't there be even more wars if we didn't try to be kind to each another? Sure, occasionally we fail and there is a war, but there could be a lot more wars than there are now?