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I come
from a Jewish tradition, the same one
as Bernie Madoff, the worst financial criminal
in history. So perhaps all Jewish transactions,
including mine, need to undergo some
extra scrutiny. My Catholic wife seems okay,
but we all know about the horrors of priests and pedophilia.
So maybe all Catholics, including Patty,
need to undergo some psychological testing. Now my Italian relatives,
we know that they must be tied into the mafia, we've all seen The Godfather and The
so we really need to be keeping an eye on them.
THEM the most dangerous four-letter word
in the English language. This word
is used to isolate, to marginalize, to insult.
This word has been responsible for the suffering and death
of millions, millions of people.
THEM is an obscene word.
I'm an entrepreneur, passionate photographer,
and have spent much of the last 12 years traveling in conflict regions,
places like North Korea, Syria, Iran,
getting people to communicate who otherwise would do anything to avoid
each other.
Working in confidential, small groups
with hundreds of top business and government leaders
trying to break down stereotypes, attack
this four-letter word, I've learned that THEMification,
a new word now, THEMification, is often the root of the problems we deal with,
both personally and geopolitically. We all know examples of the horrors
that arise from THEMification. Just a few of them - the Nazi Holocaust,
Rwanda, Darfur, Cambodia and the Killing Fields, the Balkans,
Syria today. And it's not just what THEY
do to THEM, distant and far away. In America
WE annihilated Native Americans
as our Manifest Destiny, interned Japanese-Americans,
and today randomly stop and frisk blacks
and profile Arabs and Muslims. Now we all agree security is
absolutely essential, no question about that.
But unfortunately it's also sometimes used to rationalize some of these behaviors.
And while we're getting better, we still
look at someone who seems different and instantly label as THEM.
So why do we do this? Why do we see others through this lens of THEM?
Historically THEM
helped to differentiate families, tribes for protection, bonding, to secure scarce resources.
helped to differentiate families, tribes for protection, bonding, to secure scarce resources.
Today though, we continue to use THEM to identify with
our group excluding others.
But why? An important reason is that the world is overwhelming,
full of confusing, complicated information. To simplify this complexity
and to reduce and protect us from ambiguity, which is a very uncomfortable
we label, categorize,
and stereotype. It's also efficient
to label as THEM, but when we do that
we lose much of our ability to reason,
to feel, and to empathize. We also, at that point,
begin to only seek,
see, and hear what we want and expect to find, and what psychologists call
confirmation bias. And it doesn't help that the media,
which we love to blame but really
is just a magnifying glass and mirror for our own biases,
reinforces THEMification.
How often do we hear the words Islamist, Muslim, terrorist, Arab, suicide bomber,
al Qaeda
used as a synonyms?
This creates fear and a powerful
filter through which we are taught to see the world.
Fear is created by THEM. Fear
is often false expectations appearing real.
We're hard-wired - when the amygdala in our brain senses danger,
it's designed to protect us. It immediately hijacks
our prefrontal cortex, or our intellect, and our limbic thinking,
our emotional brain. We go into fight or flight, survival mode.
This comes at a huge cost. We sacrifice
our openness, our willingness to hear,
see others, our liberties. We sacrifice our humanity
every time we allow this automatic THEMification filter
to operate.
It's time to eliminate the use and mindset
of THEM. But it takes sustained,
conscious effort to get past THEM, and it takes courage.
We all want to believe we're good and admitting,
even to ourselves, that we stereotype and exclude others
is painful. But it is possible. One of the most powerful ways,
which I've seen work hundreds of times, is through individual stories.
When we really learn someone's story, THEY become more than a stereotype,
a living, real, nuanced human being.
An exercise I've led many times over the past decade,
In The Other's Shoes, has each side retelling
in the first person the story they've just heard from the other;
a real-life role play stepping into their shoes.
Try to imagine, a Palestinian
becomes an Israeli and says,
'I come out of a cafe in Tel Aviv and hear a loud explosion.
I see my brother-in-law's blood and body parts all
over the street, another Palestinian attack.'
And then the Israeli mirrors back what he's heard
from the Palestinian. 'In the middle of the night
the soldiers storm in to occupy our home. They're screaming at us,
humiliating me in front my family. We're terrified, locked in a small room,
and we've done nothing wrong.'
In The Other's Shoes really works
because once we learn someone's story,
once we understand how they see their truth,
their reality, we don't have to accept that
as our truth, but just by hearing their story
we're changed. So getting past THEM
obviously is critical on a global and national level,
but it's also really in our enlightened self-interest.
We can improve all of our relationships, including our personal relationships,
by getting past THEM. We manage to turn our spouses and partners
into THEM. Has anyone here ever
call their spouse or partner, gone into this mode of
'he always', 'she never'. We just created
THEM. So just imagine how much better our most important
relationships would be, free of THEMification.
Mark Twain said, 'Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness'
which is why I go to places we think we know everything about
and are often wrong. But we don't have to get on a plane to travel,
we can travel every day in our communities,
schools, offices. Make an effort to really get to know
people, get to know those around us. We can go
from THEM
to US. Can we interact with one
new person a day? Maybe someone
behind us at the supermarket, with us in the elevator, the barista at Starbucks,
maybe the homeless person on the street.
By doing that, are we able to get to a place
where when we see someone who seems different,
maybe wearing a sari, a headscarf,
a kippah, a cross, a hoodie,
we stop, we talk to that person, find out who they really are
as fellow individuals. Learn about their life, their family,
beyond that apparent difference.
This is also critical when we travel overseas.
Some friends here in Boston chastised me for spending time with terrorists
when they saw this at a photo exhibition of my work from the Middle East.
Well Abdulsalaam is a Bedouin entrepreneur
who welcomed my family into his home. His name actually means 'servant of peace',
yet he was labeled by some a terrorist, a criminal, a
THEM, simply because he's wearing an Arab headdress.
We can get past THEM with four simple steps.
I call them the 4 C's. First we've got to be Conscious,
be aware of that stereotypical phrase 'THEY
always'. We can only change something once we're aware of it.
Second be Curious. Let curiosity replace our biases,
our judgments. What's it really like
in their shoes? Third
be Compassionate toward ourselves, toward others.
Brain research shows that we're much happier
and more open when we're compassionate. And finally
Challenge everything we see, believe, and are told.
Challenge media reports about THEM, challenge everything we've always known
about THEM. Fight the urge to support and defend
our positions. And when we catch others THEMifying,
challenge. The 4 C's really work
and I've seen this many many times. For years
India and Pakistan had no diplomatic relations and risked nuclear war.
I helped catalyze a group of 133 top Indian business leaders, who
walked across the Wagah border to meet with their Pakistani counterparts.
The Indians were expecting to step into a terrorist hell hole,
the ultimate THEM, but with ample security.
After we spent three days together
all the participants became conscious of their stereotypes,
curious about the other's narrative, compassionate,
and challenged their preconceived notions.
This allowed them to really see their similarities,
that the Indians and Pakistanis look the same,
have a shared cultural heritage, and are one people.
THEM had been overcome.
The 4 C's also work on a personal level.
I try very hard to be aware of and get past my THEM prejudices and it's not
Three years ago I was in Syria with my family.
We're walking and hear a loud mob chanting. Well I'm triggered.
I go into fear, freak out, I've got to protect my family we're in Syria.
But I'm curious and I feel really foolish
when we go closer and find that it's a promotion for giving chocolate on
Mother's Day.
My curiosity and willingness to challenge my fears
means I didn't come back here with the story of escaping something horrible in
dreaded Syria, but instead
join the festivities and am hoisted on the shoulders
of THEM.
THEM, my new friends.
We all have a long way to go including me
but every step forward is significant.
Be conscious, be curious, be compassionate
and challenge challenge challenge. And remember,
there is NO THEM
once you KNOW THEM. Thank you very much.


【TEDx】最危險的「四個字母」 (The most dangerous four-letter word: Dick Simon at TEDxBeaconStreet)

7322 分類 收藏
阿多賓 發佈於 2014 年 3 月 9 日    Arnold Hsu 翻譯    Kristi Yang 審核
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