Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Connecting Differences

Image source: zakebrahim.com | ted.com

In hundreds of speeches over the years, two themes have run front center: love and inspiration. Whether it is politics, business or culture, I believe that solving problems and creating better worlds boils down to unleashing the most positive of human emotions.

However negative the situation looks or the problem presents or the news is, the start of a solution happens when you create the conditions for love and inspiration.

One such condition is connecting people and ideas that are different in a democratic space, which brings understanding, revelation, and opens the door to new possibilities. An example comes from a TED talk by Zak Ebrahim: ‘I am the son of a terrorist. Here’s how I chose peace.’ TED has just published this story as a book; it is an intimate, behind-the-scenes life of an American boy raised by his terrorist father — the man who planned the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Zak Ebrahim talks about how his eyes were opened, after growing up in a bigoted household and being raised to judge people based on arbitrary measurements.

In this story it is the positive intersections that led to a change of the direction in which he was being forced; the connecting of differences that led to perceptions that turned it around.

Three lines that are foundational for me in this talk are:
  1. When people take the time to interact with one another, it doesn't take long to realize that, for the most part, we all want the same things out of life. 
  2. Inspiration can often come from an unexpected place, so become exposed to people from many different walks of life, faiths and cultures. 
  3. Everyone regardless of their upbringing or circumstances, can learn to tap into their inherent empathy and embrace tolerance over hatred. 

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