TED Conversations

Adam Burk

Founder/ Director, Treehouse Institute


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Can it be commonly understood that character development or the lack of it is the root of our collective ails and their solutions?

All human behavior can be traced back to two primordial archetypes, the creative and the destructive, light and dark, chaos and cosmos. Thus, individually we are responsible for aligning ourselves with either the creative or the destructive principle. Our effectiveness in doing so is reflected in timely action or lack thereof.

Our current climate crisis can be viewed as a collective failure of individuals to adequately development maturity and sanity. Our financial crisis is the result of collective greed of individuals.

Is it not true that someone develops a cure to a disease because at their core they have compassion and care enough to help alleviate the suffering of others? Is it not also true that those who design financial systems to ensure their own wealth with no regard for the social or environmental devastation that they cause are significantly lacking in superior traits of human beauty?

Can it not be commonly understood then that character development or lack there of is the root of our collective ails and their solutions? That by expanding compassion and consciousness rather than with holding their growth is the core solution to our collective struggles? Are we not faced primarily with moral and human challenges and secondarily technical ones?


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  • Mar 31 2011: You pose a difficult question in that there is an inherent paradox in it. The nature of your question points the finger at lesser evolved, yet fails to show the development of compassion that you speak of. I don´t think you can do any good by pointing out that some people have less or different development than others. I suspect we´ll all find that we each have a piece. The gentiles, the jews, the autistic, the gifted, the developed, the greedy, the other and the self. Know that I heed my words as I type them: Look at you first, then see what you can do for the world. Accept the others as they are. Pray to god that they accept you.
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      Apr 1 2011: Tyler, I am with you. The serenity prayer comes to mind,

      "God grant me the serenity
      to accept the things I cannot change;
      courage to change the things I can;
      and wisdom to know the difference."

      And my question may not clearly articulate all the intricacies of my thinking. I do not point to lesser evolved as a class or group of people, but rather lesser evolved qualities that we each individually have and can be seen in collective issues.

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