TED Conversations

Caroline Phillips

CEO/President, Entrepreneur & muscian


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What can we do, as citizens to promote tolerance in our daily lives ?

You're in a meeting. Someone tells a joke ... it's about a jew, a black guy, that pushy feminist, that gay guy... What do you do ?

You're waiting in line and you see someone ethnic/different being badly treated by a bank teller/government worker/cashier.

You're at a party where Dave, your friend's husband is gay-bashing again.

At school, you hear a kid use a racial epithet when yelling at another kid.

What kind of attitude do you adopt ?
If you do say something... what do you say ?
How can and does your behavior affect others ?

If you have stood up for the underdog and for tolerance, how did it affect your relationship with friends, clients, business partners or significant others ?

Tolerance ... definition :
"The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others."


Closing Statement from Caroline Phillips

Thank you all for your wonderful contributions to this conversation about Tolerance with a capital "T".

I've learned quite a bit from you and I think it's a wonderful testimony to the magic of TED that so many nationalities participated in this conversation. I feel a lot like Mary Saville : I too tend to get too emotional and engaged about intolerant things I'm hearing so I can produce the opposite effect and be too agressive and intolerant. I'll aspire to be more like Robert Jaffe when adressing intolerant people, to react swiftly but not humiliate.

Susan B. writes "Standing up for the underdog, does not make life happy for you. You are looked at as not being a team player, going against the norm and going against the grain."

My concluding thoughts : Unfortunately I don't live in a "TED world", so standing up for the underdog will often be a perilous endavour, but I'm willing to take the chance.

Hugs to all.

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  • Apr 26 2011: Thanks Andrea. I use acceptance, then tolerance.
    You know, I don't believe in God and a Divine Plan, so I first ask a person if they do and if "yes" I ask why do they believe in a Divine Plan and then think they are so godly as to mess with what is going on? It isn't just a moral dilemma as to whether they should help or not, nor is it the hindsight that some express after they interfered and found out they were right! If there is a Plan, their conscious judgment cannot be anything but wrong, even if they were right, on our level What exactly is "assertive empathy"? Sharing and understanding for both participants, or how many are involved in what looks to be disagreeable? You know, it's important to learn how not to care. Most would react to that statement as being preposterous. But, for at least the last 70-80 years, the main definition (#1), listed in all kinds of English dictionaries, from 1935 up to 2005, that I used for checking this, defined "care" as, a troubled state of mind. Interesting, as most would not think preposterous to get rid of or not have, a troubled state of mind. All in all, that is a tough question. My first reaction is to help, followed right away by a certain sense of the danger to my own being. At times, I have stepped in, and at other times I have not. And if I am honest, I don't feel good about the latter, but is that not still unhealthy pride and ego on my part? Where I live there are many beggars. Where I used to live there were more so I had lots of experience in sensing, reflecting, watching and feeling very clearly, when my heart closed, or rather, when I closed my heart, so that I could pass by without giving, from the inner debate I had about how I cannot give anymore for that day, or to another beggar today. And, it really helps to have a friend or acquaintance who overtly hates beggars, etc. and one can use that to look good, see the need, and carry out a good deed, overcoming the fear from being so important. I think acceptance

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