TED Conversations

Phillip Beaver

Citizen, Humankind

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Each person is better served by self-reliance within the community of humankind than by subservience to ideologies.

The human path is not easy: Infants are uniformed, illiterate, inarticulate, sexually diffuse, self-centered, and dependent on conflicted societies (Overstreet). Each infant has duty to self to achieve psychological maturity. Societies encourage people to become compliant--to a god or a philosophy and a family and a country and a career. There’s almost no time to “know thy self.”

Each person’s path toward self-discovery is unique within a concurrent 80 years of humankind’s millions of years’ progress (involving perhaps 100 billion people). Thus, "I am" is not alone. The adolescent’s path lags humankind’s maturity, but the adult has the potential to lead.

Justice is necessary for liberty. But is unity beyond I am desirable? I’d like TEDsters’ thoughts.

Perhaps people who acquire hope, humility, and uncertainty develop the necessary, evolving skills for leadership. It is difficult to think of an example for all cultures, but Abraham Lincoln, whose time was cut short, comes to mind. Perhaps TEDsters can suggest people who led/lead humankind’s progress toward psychological maturity.


In addition to H. A. Overstreet's book, The Mature Mind, at least two TEDsters helped inspire this presentation.

1. Matthieu Mossec’s conversation, “Morality is better informed by science than it is by religion.”

2. Leslie Saunders’ phrase “independence within interdependence,” in the conversation, “It seems the conversationalists herein have relegated the golden rule to the world’s list of bad ideas.”

(General revision: 11/20/11, to "subservience to ideologies 11/22, added 2 related talks on 11/29-30, 1 on 12/6/11)

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    Nov 21 2011: What is being intended by "psychologic maturity" is achieving a level of personality where we should be free from the entrapment of any conditioning, be it of our biological drives or from the overpowering rule of emotions. This is not supposed to mean that we need to transcend to the "level of the spirit", it only means that our physical processes ensuring our existence should take place consciously and not compulsively. Instincts are nature's programs to help us cope with survival challenges and fulfill our duties towards our species in terms of survival and perpetuation - so far, nothing different from the rest of the species with which we coexist. Only, with an increase in our mastery over the resources on this planet our drives and ambitions have come to interfere and conflict others, both other humans and other living beings. We came to believe lately that we can get along enjoying life without putting any restriction to our hedonistic drives, although ethics and religion have been warning us all along against them (without being quite a religious adept,I invoke here the seven capital sins of the Bible). Today we are a global society whose impulsive nature is powerful enough to endanger life on earth if our consumerism and global economic - political ambitions go unrestrained. Basically, our advanced knowledge - however academic - and our technologies did not free us from under the overpowering drive of our emotions or impulses. So far we have only been using them to condition and manipulate tastes and opinions, to create more, unsustainable "well being". Yes, we might very well put it as having been acting "unconsciously", in as much as unconscious "id" (immediate satisfaction) and the unconscious part of our ego (self-centeredness) have been in the drive seat lately. And yes, I can increasingly see a pattern of awakening to our true nature, that of Conscious Creators, with the necessary awareness to contain ourselves before we rule the universe.

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