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 30 2011: Tolerance is when one learns to accept that no two people can have the same view towards life, things, people or situations. It is a degree higher than patience because we are not merely awaiting our turn, or our time or turning a deaf ear or blind eye to situations.
    Tolerance is accepting anothers view, abiding by the law live and let live. We have to teach ourselves, empower ourself to understand that no two people can be clones in thought or behaviour. Experiances, Circumstances, situations, upbringing, values, education, culture all these aspects play a great and vital part in shaping each indvidual personality and developement.
    If one has the courage of conviction i fully support standing for the underdog in any situation as long as one doesnt cower away midway leaving the person even more vulnerable and ridiculed than before. If you are not convinced about the cause you can never fight for it with strength. You have to believe that you are doing the right thing. It is the right of freedom that is bestowed upon us and with that comes the responsibility of making the right choice.
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      Apr 30 2011: Hello Bhagyashree! I really liked the way you took the concepts one step forward to concrete action and the warning that we have to be very careful to follow through when we intervene. Leaving people more vulnerable is counterproductive for everyone.
      I read a study the other day that indicated that in fMRI studies bullies demonstrate that they get pleasure from causing harm and that it is actually hardwired into certain centers of their brains. It will not be an easy fix.
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        May 2 2011: Bullies sense fear just like animals do. Fear in the body odour, fera in the eyes, in the tremble of your hands, a quickened pace.
        I am not talking about dealing with murderers here or the ordeal of getting mugged but the bullying that one faces in school, college or workplace. Confidence is a detterent as is indifference. This is not to be confused with audacity or challenging a situation.
        Have you seen a stream of ants walking towards their goal...put in a detterent they either cross over it or go around it...their speed remaining constant. You can put 2 or 3 or even 10 objects in their path.....their stance does not chnage. In todays society and world we have to teach our childern to be like that to survive if they not built to give a physical stay away appearance.
        This does work most of the time...simply because the enjoyment of the reaction is missed by the bully.
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          May 2 2011: Just to clarify: the study that I cited was with adolescent bullies with a control group of teen nonbullies.
        • May 14 2011: As a teacher I was expected to not tolerate bullying. I did what I could but kid A sitting right in front of me can give kid B a 1/10 second glance across the room and kid B has been bullied. They both know it and I am oblivious. (Now this presumes a prior bullying relationship between the two - unlikely bullying could be started with such a glance).

          Alas, I have few insights into bullying, as, with one possible exception, I never bullied (as best I know), nor, with 2.5 exceptions, I was never bullied.

          The 0.5 was almost sad. Bridge in the middle of the H.S. campus & seniors occasionally extorted lunch money form frosh (35¢ back then). The guy wo stopped me was built like a brick s-house with half the IQ. He stops me. I says, 'Look, Stan, that little weasel is sneaking right behind you!' Stan turns his 300lbs to look & off I run, Maybe I bullied him. Got to know Stan a little bit later on. Doubt his IQ made 70, but he seemed to be a good heart - I figure he may have been put pu to the extortion thing - had his heart been into it, I might not have faired so well …

          The pseudo bullying, I do not understand but am ashamed of to this day. There was a gal, say 'Melodie' - this was oh, grade 4-5, I'd guess. Well, Melodie was bad news. I treated her like she had leprosy, like she was below the bottom of the caste system - and as I recall, so did others. In grade 7 math I was once seated next to her (to deal with a talking problem) I was horrified, I had to sit next to Melodie!! Desparate times, desperate measures. I talked with, gulp, Melodie. Nonstop. 2 days. Before I was moved, to my ultimate relief! Let me now tell you about Melodie. She was bright, cute (but she had a very fine dark mustache - yuk!), clever, and friendly, in spite of our treatment of her. Why in the hell did I treat her like that!?!? Was I nuts? As I say, not exactly bullying, but reprehensible none the less. I'm sure she got the last laugh & has done VERY well in life.
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          May 14 2011: Thanks for your honest story John.

          Maybe you are illustrating an important insight into bullying and intolerance. Some of the most vicious 'gay' bashers I have ever known eventually came out of the closet and had to face what their own inner denial and what their inner torment had enabled them to do. I kjnow it is easy to blame it on homophobia but there is more than a grain of truth in the overall concept.If we are still trying to establish or defend our own selves to ourselves perhaps a mirror or an association with the person we fear most being like triggers a mindless sort of rage and rejection??

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