TED Conversations

pk anil kumar

Senior Creative Director, McCann Erickson / India

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Why is it that usernames who are online activists never show their physical presence on streets when a bleeding victim needs help?

Why is it that we express our views a lot but never act upon?
Why is it that we feel that our responsibility gets over after we voice our opinion and think that the rest of the world needs to covnvert it into action and we have done our duty?
Why are we afraid to lend a helping hand to strangers?

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  • Nov 20 2011: When you look at the recent police actions against OWS protestors, look especialy at the grenade launch at Scott Olsen and the recent peper spraying of the UC Berkley students you see another side of this.

    I personally believe the actions taken by the Koch Brothers and others like them, utlizing Edwin Bernays' theories on how to manipulate people have done anawesome job over the years in keeping us from feeling free to speak up in the face of "wrong". We have eroded the sense of what "wrong" is, and utterly conflated a strange morality with upholding a very narrow moral line which loses sight of the greater good very easily. When people are being endlessly bombarded wth messages that they need to be afraid they become afraid. When you bombard them with messages that only a militarized police and a police state can keep them safe, they will beleive it.

    There were SO many other options for how to deal with these demonstrators, yet even the Chancellor of UC insisted the police had run out of options. When using a narrow and very limted tool box that bypasses the "serve" poriton of protect and serve and interprets "protect" very narrowly, the police probably did run out of options.

    But, why would people get involved if they risk this and are being told that the protestors are the people they need to be afraid of....
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    Nov 20 2011: That is a great question PK.
    I agree with Noel when he says it has to do with fear. We are taught to never interfere with others business, never to get your hands dirty because than you become involved in something you never wanted to be involved in. Someone who can hear their nextdoor neighbour being absolutely beat by their abusive boyfriend may go and try to stop it and then get themselves beat up or told to mind their own business by both the man and woman! Sure you could call the police, but when they arrive the boyfriend and girlfriend will say that they just had an argument and now you have a nextdoor neighbour who knows you called the police on them and the situation will not get any better.

    We want to be good but are aware that sometimes it is easier to stay out because there are a lot of people who are in obvious need of help but do not want it.
  • Nov 18 2011: First off, no I am not related to your employer...

    I think the Occupy movement is a sign of some of this changing. the other day a very conservative news reporter who was covering the occupy movement but extremely critical of it was injured by the police. Instantly, the very people she had been criticizing turned to her to help her.

    There are two talks here on TED that I think epitomize the issues: the first is the one on Oxytocin and "moral" behavior and the other is the four ways to solve the problems in the legal system. I'll look up who that speaker is and report it for you.

    But, you need to look up the ascendency of the thinking of John Nash, Game theory and Ayn Rand and others like her. Look for a series of films by Adam Curtis called the Trap. The second in the series is called The Trap: The Lonely Robot. And it does a decent job capturing some aspect of the paradigm we humans have been adopting over the last 30 years that has been so deleterious to our humanity. It may have increased our technology, but at a terrible cost to our higher natures. It is worth looking into. If you want the world to be a better place you have to help people understand why we don't behave in better ways. How do we get people to adopt new ideas? How does an idea which is bad for us get adopted?
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    Nov 18 2011: How can you be certain about what others are dong, PK? There are many who follow the adage 'never let your left hand know what your right hand is doing" in terms of good works.
  • Nov 18 2011: I completely agree with you Sharon, and really thak you for all the valuable suggestions like "The Trap" and ' The Lonely Robot". And I think people will adopt new ideas when they see people adopting new ideas and getting results. We have to lead by example and from one drop at a time, an ocean will be crearted.
  • Nov 18 2011: Hi Debra, this is an observation, and it is not about "good work" in general but "very specific situations when help is required on streets, roads and people avoid getting into trouble". I know world is full of nice people who like to remain unsung heros.