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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    May 1 2011: I give myself the permission to talk about "Liberty". With few words that anyone can utter and say out loud, be it in a "meeting", in a public place, in school, in a restaurant or wherever you want.
    I am going to use the French Revolution to reply on your interesting question in order to answer by defining the individual and collective rights.
    " IV. Political liberty consists in the power of doing whatever does not injure another. The
    exercise of the natural rights of every man, has no other limits than those which are
    necessary to secure to every other man the free exercise of the same rights; and these
    limits are determinable only by the law. " ~ The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, 1789, National Assembly of France

    Or give it a try and say: "My freedom ends where someone else's begins." (I tried to translate it from this: "Ma liberté s'arrête là où commence celle des autres.".
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      May 1 2011: Mario, Hello, This is an interesting addition to the discussion. We have often heard the maxim that "my freedom ends where someone else' begins' but because we are not just a physical body and our ears extend our consciousness out past ourselves, our eyes see at some distance and our other senses extend our being into the space between people problems arise. How does one limit their own freedoms or expect someone else to limit what they percieve to be their own freedoms? Is it a matter of educating a person into self control? For example, in France right now wearing of the burka or niqab has been deemed illegal. How do we find the wisdom of Solomon between deciding that every person has a right to wear whatever they please and express their religious belief with the other issues of the common good?
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        May 1 2011: Hello Debra, I completely agree about what you said, it's obvious! It is all about "education" and being polite enough to respect others. Because, when you disrespect someone, you indirectly disrespect yourself, your education, your reputation and your image. Too bad, what happened in France was not between the population's hand. I've been living with french people, I have french friends, I went to France and you can hardly find racist people or intolerant people. This is a simple example that I think will probably give you an idea of how it works in France: you have a big percentage of Moroccans, Tunisians, and Algerians living in French, which actually proves that most of them are muslims. And if the right of wearing a "hijab" in France was not strict, meaning, not only between the government's hand, I am nearly sure that this new "rule" would have never been elected or chosen.
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          May 1 2011: Hi Again Mario! Thanks for engaging me in dialogue.
          Let's take the example of music. Some people love hard rock and would love to hear someone else's music while others find it almost painful to hear. Others love classical and their opposites hate it in the extreme. We are fortunate enough to live in an age of ear buds but if someone wants to play it loudly in their own home they often feel entitled to do so without regard to anyone else. This a mild example. Recently at a university frosh week people here were having sex in public! Yikes! Having been raised in an era of modesty (even if I do not believe myself to be a prude) makes that a bit bizzare for me.
          Where do my rights end and another's begin? I think I should care if sharia law comes into my own country. I have fought tough battles for women to have rights and I do not want to bow my knee to ideas or faiths that will undermine my human rights.
          While I would stand up for the same rights for any person of religion- I struggle to define the line between defending their rights and keeping the full measure of my own.
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          May 2 2011: Hello,

          I'd like to "jump in" here for a minute :

          Mario, I don't know where you live in France but I can promise you that in the 25 years that I have lived here (in Paris and in the provinces), I regularly run into people who are openly racist : the most prevalent is anti-semitism, but it also extends to Africans, people from the former French colonies ... and the social circles where I have most encountered this kind of intolerant behaviour is in the business sector :(.

          Debra, to add to your comment : I think that it's difficult for a man to understand how a woman feels about the sharia. I've travelled quite a bit and in some countries I've had to wear a headscarf, simply because I am, well, swarthy and I tend to blend in so without the headscarf I was absolutely taunted, a couple of times men tried to grab my arm, by posterior, my well, chest ... Women fought hard for their rights which came LATE in France :

          A passport for a woman (without her husband) : 1937
          Women' right to have her own bank account : 1943
          Women's vote : 1944
          and ... in France, the husband's name is on his wife's passport while on the husband's passport, the wife's name doesn't appear !
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          May 2 2011: Yes, Caroline! Thanks for jumping in- its what makes this forum so very great!
          I agree and have often tried to remind people that women have had rights through most of the world for just about 100 years. That is a very short time when we consider all of history. We saw how quickly they could lose all of their human rights in Afganistan.

          A female Canadian diplomat of my acquaintance was stationed in a prominent position in the embassy in Saudi Arabia. She was there with her husband and even though she had the red passport of a fully independent Canadian diplomat she could not drive, could not leave her home without a note from her husband - (a year younger and a year less senior in their profession) - she could not go out unaccompanied, had to wear the burka. So- I am, as a human being. fully commited to seeing all people treated with dignity and respect. I routinely stand up for people and taught my children to do the same. The real crux of the dilemma for me is when I am faced with two 'rights' that are in direct opposition to one another- someone's right to their religious beliefs and mine or another's human rights. I have to believe that human rights trump the right to what we think but I would be open to hearing any other views.
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          May 2 2011: Hi Debra undersatnd fully what you are saying about Saudi because I had been there for 2 interestingly challenging years. It's not only to the ladies they are discriminating though your acquintance had a heavenly identity of Canada (to Saudies I meant) .
          One can see / experience multiple faces of racism there. Though I am not heirarchial or status oriented showing power of position just as an example I was holding a position there which any Saudi can be envious of (regardless of their competency), any other nationality would love to have that position. I was treated extremely shitty in a intersting way in different time mostly due to my country of origin despite I have muslim name (Saudi percieved to be heaven on earth for Muslim & though I never wanted to be treated specially due to my name) some other time how come I having that position coming with that shitty country origin. I just wanted to be treated as a human being. So it's not only woman specific to be treated badly in that country.
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          May 3 2011: Jaime, thank you - I did not know that problems are between things but I should have perhaps known about conflict. (Can't there be conflicting information- which is a thing?)I really wish to learn from you because I think the point you are making must be important but I do not understand the context or the reason for the clarification from philology. I reread what I have written and I do not see where I used problems or conflict. Please come back at your earliest convenience and share a bit more.
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          May 3 2011: I am sincere in my desire to learn. I sense that you have much to teach me.( I recently got into a debate with a man who was using terms recklessly and I do not want to do the same.) Please share more!!
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      May 3 2011: merci y merci Y merci

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