Learning is paramount to personal and organizational growth. These videos seek to provide education and inspiration for those of us interested in making a bigger impact. Here are the videos, along with a brief summary of each.
Please note, the summaries are simply posted to help remember and re-cap the videos. Please do yourself a favor and watch the full videos :)
Summary: While Harvey delivers a somewhat Marxist-centered point-of-view, his talk is very interesting. In it, he mentions that there are a LOT of reasons why there was an economic collapse. A big piece of the puzzle relates to financial innovation that worked to get the right amount of money, in the right volume, at the right time. In doing so, the rich continue to get richer while the middle class (and lower) get relatively poorer. As time goes on, the greatest number of people who have the potential to buy the most products (the middle and lower classes) are getting poorer and are unable to buy as much, thereby slowing down the economy. In their quest for immediate wealth, the financiers (and upper class at large) are eroding their own markets. Only be improving the quality of the middle and lower classes, can we all continue to become "wealthier".
Summary: In this talk, Slavoj seeks to answer the question "Why charity is a basic constituency of our society?" He explains that charity in fact destructs what it seeks to solve. And in pursuing purchases that "give back" (like Tom's shoes) we actually aren't helping as much as we think we are. While charity (at least in most cases) is better than nothing, Slavoj urges you to consider that a child who is better fed because of our donations is still living in the same corrupt system that produced him. In order to truly be successful in our giving, we need to invest in sustainable businesses and infrastructure improvements that enable people to create their own wealth, not just accept charity.
Summary: In this talk, the speakers explore the notion that people might not be as altruistic as they think (or as we think they are). If we think people have nothing, we are likely to give more. If people have even a little bit, we are less likely to give as much. And if people have the same amount as us, we feel entitled to even take some of their money. Yes, people are altruistic and give, but only if there is something in it for themselves.
Summary: People know that smoking is bad for them, and yet they do it. Kids know that it is important to study in school in order to be financially successful, and yet a child drops out every 9 seconds. In this talk "Professor Philip Zimbardo conveys how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being. Time influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships, and how we act in the world." Zimbardo also highlights a study that shows that by the time a boy is 21 years old, he has played 10,000 hours worth of video games. This means that "children live in a world they create". Zimardo then explores how this affects their education and future careers. By analyzing how we view time (and the impact of our choices over time) we can improve our education, and even our political system.
In this talk, Mathew Taylor starts by saying that "Democracy can only be as successful as we, the people, make it." Taylor goes on to highlight a few idiosyncrasies in our thinking. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from his talk:
"If asked if we want $50 dollars now or $100 in a year, we will take $50 now. We are risk averse... We feel more strongly about losing something we have than gaining something we don't. We tend to think our own successes our based on our qualities, while our failures on based on circumstance, but we think the opposite about other people. For example, we think 90% of us are above average drives".
This extends in voting... We believe that the "customer is always right"... the same can be said about the voter who is in the majority. "Patient satisfaction ratings for the NHS are at the highest ever, but 56% think that the health service is in crisis. We agree that we need to change our lives to counter global warming, but admit we have no plans to do so ourselves."
The problem with our democracy is not as we often think... About the performance of our politicians, nor even the workings of our constitution, but its about the content of our conversation. Yes, we have some flaws and frailties... we are personally optimistic but socially pessimistic. If we are creative and ambitious, we CAN exert more influence over the social sphere". And if we understand that we often view things through irrational lenses, we can improve the quality of conversations, and the impact of our action.
Summary: In this talk, Barbara Ehrenreich outlines that "positive thinking" can have its "darker side". In many cases, positive thinking is not only handed down, but in fact, mandated. She provides examples from former President George Bush and financial institutions who all did their fair share of firing people for bringing up issues or "being negative". While optimism is indeed beneficial, Ehrenreich outlines that we should work on "Realism" to tackle the parts of the world that are threatening. We have collective power, but only if we believe that we can change things by action, not just positive thinking.
Summary: I am ending this post with this talk for a specific reason... it is the most hopeful. In this talk, Jeremy Rifkin explains that people are soft wired to experience anther's plight.... people are soft-wired for sociability, attachment, affection, companionship. This is the reason that we cringe when we see people get hurt or start smiling when we see other laughing. Because of this, Rifkin asks
"Is it possible we can actually extend our empathy to the entire human race as a extended family, and to our fellow creatures as part of our evolutionary family, and to the biosphere as our common community? If it is possible to imagine that, than we may be able to save our species and save our family."
Empathy used to only be extended to immediate blood ties (and immediate tribes). Script allowed us to bring more people together under theologies, so now empathy extended to larger groups, based primarily on religious ties. In the 1900s, industrial revolution extended markets to fictional nation states. But now, new technologies are allowing us to extend across all humans. As an example, when the earthquake hit Haiti, within hours the entire human race was in an empathic embrace of Haiti as soon as the world saw the pictures and videos coming from the destruction of the quake.
In order to come together, we need to expand out identities to connect to humans, creatures, and the biosphere at large regardless of fictional political, racial, cultural, ethnic and/or religious boundaries. Our primary drive is to belong to something... let's all belong to a better world. Will you help create it?