Help make America talk again | Celeste Headlee | TEDxSeattle
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Help make America talk again | Celeste Headlee | TEDxSeattle


Translator: Marta Quirós Alarcón
Reviewer: youjeong kang So I am not here to
sugarcoat anything for you. I’ve been a journalist
for nearly 20 years, and quite frankly I can
tell you there’s no way to downplay the serious
situation that we’re in as a nation. 26.4% of voters chose Clinton, 26.2% chose Trump, 42% decided not to vote at all. There are protests in
cities all over the country. The number of hate crimes against Muslims has never been this high since 9/11. Nazi graffiti has shown up on buildings. A group of kids in Michigan
chanted “Build the wall” while their Latino classmates wept. It’s a really serious situation. On the other hand, I am not here
to help you wallow in despair. I am not here to support either candidate. I’m not going to complain
about the Electoral College. I’m not going to tell Clinton supporters
to get behind their new president. Because all of this
goes way beyond politics. I would really like to
show us the way to hope, and I’d like to show us the way forward, but to do that we have to
understand how we got here. If you’re feeling pretty good
about your own choices, maybe deploring the
behavior of other people, you’re maybe blaming all of this on
the other side, whatever side that is, you might have missed the point. We hate each other because
we don’t know each other. We don’t see each other
as worthy of respect. We view people who disagree with us
not as human beings, but as enemies. And we have separated ourselves into
tribes, and now we are warring tribes. 75% of white Americans
have no non-white friends. 65% of African Americans
have an all-black social network. Our schools are as segregated now
as they were during the days of Jim Crow. Half of us say that most of our
friends share our political views. And 1 in 5 would be unhappy if
someone from the other political party married into our family. Social media allows us
to customize our society. We can tailor what we read and what
we hear according to what we want to hear. We can ignore evidence
that refutes our beliefs, and we unfriend people,
both online and in real life. If you were surprised by
the results of November 8th, that’s a reflection of the extent
to which you’ve isolated yourself from people who think
differently and look differently. Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T,
said something very important when he was speaking to his employee
support groups earlier this year. He said, quote: “Our communities
are being destroyed by racial tensions, and we’re too polite to talk about it.” I’m not asking you to
be tolerant of each other. Tolerance is for cowards. Being tolerant asks nothing of you
but to be quiet and to make no waves, holding tightly to your
views and judgments. Do not be tolerant of each other. Work hard, move into
uncomfortable territory, and understand each other. One of the most telling things
that I’ve heard since this election came from a friend of mine,
who said: “You know what? I’d love to talk to
somebody from the other side, but I don’t know anybody
who voted for someone else.” Tolerance asks only that you put
up with somebody else’s existence. Stephenson is asking for understanding, and that requires interaction. Of all the statistics and studies
that I’ve read, and I’ve read a lot, the one that scares me the most: empathy has declined
by 40% in recent years. That comes out of research
from the University of Michigan. We are in the midst of what
one psychologist called “a narcissism epidemic”. Empathy is really different from sympathy. Sympathy is when you say
to someone: “I feel for you”. Empathy is when you say
to them: “I feel with you”. Empathy is the basis of our moral code. “Do unto others as you
would have them do unto you”. It’s the golden rule. And it appears in dozens of religions and spiritual practices
from all over the world. In Islam, it is: “None of you truly
believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself”. In Hinduism, it is: “This is the sum
of duty. Do not do to someone else what would cause pain if done to you”. In the tradition of the Pima,
a Native American people: “Do not wrong or hurt your neighbor
because it is not he who you wrong, it is yourself.” Scientists have found a number of
ways for us to increase empathy. You can read a novel. You can play in a band. You can sing in a choir. You can volunteer your
time to help other people. But you know what one of the most
effective ways to boost your empathy is? It’s to talk to strangers. Well, listen to strangers. Learn about what their lives are like. How they get over life’s obstacles. What they love and what they fear. We can talk to people who
fundamentally disagree with us, and we can do it without arguing. I’m a mixed-race woman. I’ve had good conversations with members of the
Sons of Confederate Veterans. They educated me. The guys I talked to were not racists, but they were trying to
reclaim a racist symbol, and they enlightened me,
I’m better for that conversation. When you go into exchanges like that you
have to ask yourself: What am I afraid of? But you also have to ask:
What are they afraid of? I’m not telling you to subject yourself
to abuse and harrassment, of course not, but hearing an opposing opinion
is not inherently abusive. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s really the only way
that we grow and evolve. To paraphrase Larry King: You will learn nothing
from what you say today, you can only learn by
listening to other people. I don’t think it was the
economy, or the Russians, or WikiLeaks, or the media, or Hillary, or Donald,
that led us to this point. The divisions were planted
and started a very long time ago, and now we are deeply entrenched. There are protests in the streets. A man was beaten
because he voted for Trump. A group of schoolkids linked
arms and tried to prevent their minority classmates
from reaching their classrooms. Are you ready to talk yet? Are you ready to have someone
say that they support mass deportation without calling them a fascist? Are you ready to let someone explain
why they think building the wall was crazy without calling them a libtard? We see videos of kids
screaming insults at each other and we think: Where
did they learn that? From us. We can’t talk about politics
without insulting each other. And we explain our disagreement
by saying the other side is ignorant, or stupid, or elitist, or in denial. Take a look at these two tweets. [Regardless of the outcome, we are clearly
a deeply divided and broken country.] They were sent less than four hours apart. [So much work ahead to mend,
heal and restore the U in USA.] I’ll give you a moment to read that. (Laughter) [We are under total Republican
rule. Textbook fascism. (omitted) you, white
America. (omitted) you, you racist, mysoginist
pieces of (omitted). G’night.] The situation could not be
more critical for our country, and the stakes could not be higher. We’re going to have to
find our way back to civility, and we’re going to have to
learn how to talk to each other. I want to give you some tangible tools
so you can get this process started. So here are four tips that just
might help you talk to someone who disagrees with you politically. First, don’t try to educate anybody and do not try to change anybody’s mind. Because, you know what? You probably cannot change anybody’s mind. It’s really hard. In fact, it’s so hard we almost
never change our own minds. That’s scientifically true. Most of us suffer from something
called “the backfire effect”. Basically, what that means
is if we believe something and someone presents evidence
to us that refutes our belief, it makes us believe stronger. (Laughter) When we believe it, and then
we see facts that say that’s not true, it backfires. So don’t bother. Don’t go into a conversation trying
to educate or teach someone. Go in there to learn. Remember the words of Carl Sagan
who, in his “Baloney Detection Kit” said: “Try not to get overly attached to
a hypothesis just because it’s yours.” Tip number two: Don’t prejudge. There’s a concept in psychology
that’s called “the halo and horns effect”. Basically, if we have a
favorable opinion of something, we are already ready to accept and approve of everything that person says or does. And then the opposite. If somebody walks in
wearing a Bernie Sanders t-shirt, or a “Make America great again” hat, we are primed to either accept
or disapprove of everything they say. But people are not political platforms. People are not talking points. They may spout catchphrases,
but if you talk to them long enough, usually you can get beyond that. [“We look very different.”] People are complicated,
and they’re nuanced. (Laughter) [“But we are both dogs.
Shall we play?” “Ok.”] And those complications are what
make people so damn interesting. You may disagree on nuclear policy,
but totally agree on healthcare. You may disagree on just about
everything, but both agree that dogs are better than people. (Laughter) People are not the
politicians that they vote for. Number three: Show some respect. At all times. You may think they don’t
know what it’s like to be you. You don’t know what it’s like to be them. Life is hard, and it’s hard for everybody. Maybe you don’t approve of
the solutions they’ve come up with, maybe you think you would’ve
done it a different way, but they think they’re
doing the best that they can. So show them the respect
you demand for yourself. Show them the respect you want
for your parents, for your kids, or your best friend. Number four: Stick it out. Don’t walk off in a huff,
don’t throw your hands up and say, “This isn’t worth it”,
“This is pointless”. I can tell you right now, it’s not fun. It is not fun to hear someone tell you
that everything you believe is wrong. But take a breath, wait before
you respond, and hang in there. We can talk to people
that disagree with us. And you know what? We must. I know you’re going to hear things
that you don’t want to hear, but grit your teeth
and ask some questions. “Why do you think that?” “What makes you so
passionate about that?” “What’s your source?” I think this election has exposed
some underlying forces in our nation that we’ve been in denial
about for a very long time. And I hope we can grapple with that, instead of discounting
the evidence we don’t like and embracing everything
that proves us right. Facebook tailors your newsfeed so it can fit into your biases. Stop getting your news from Facebook. (Applause) Check out The Center for Public Integrity. Check out the Center for
Investigative Reporting. Check out ProPublica. Subscribe to The American Conservative. There’s good reporting in there. And before you post anything, anywhere, check it on Snopes.com or PolitiFact. Take some responsibility
for the information on which you base your opinions. I really hope that we can finally
begin to have the tough conversations that we’ve avoided for a very long time, so that we can move forward as one nation, understanding we really
are all in this together. History teaches us that when we
hurt one group, eventually we all suffer. But you know what else history teaches us? Elections don’t settle arguments. They don’t prove anybody right
and they don’t prove anybody wrong. We’re going to have to do it ourselves,
because I’ll tell you what, you know what one thing is
that most of us agree on? Washington D.C. is not
going to solve our problems. (Applause) No matter who won, half of the country
was going to be angry and upset. We said terrible things about each other, and the election was not going
to make any of that go away. The divisions that led us to November
8th were still there the next morning, and we’re going to have
to stop isolating ourselves and start learning how
to talk to one another. 2016 is a really critical
moment in our history. I think, I truly believe, it could
be the catalyst for change, but we have to be careful about
the kind of change that we get. If we continue to barricade
ourselves behind walls, gathering our like-minded tribe around
us and lobbing rocks at everybody else, the change with be toward
further divisions, increased anger, and a breakdown of our social systems. But if we can find empathy,
if we can find understanding, the change could be
toward a positive turning point. November 9th, 2016 could
be the beginning of a new era. So get out there, be uncomfortable, let yourself be shaken. I know that a lot of people are
looking for hope, and I promise you you can find hope in
other human beings. People are not stereotypes. People are better than you think, and they’ll surprise you. You can find inspiration
and optimism in other people, but first, you have
to see them as people, and you have to hear them out. Thanks. (Applause)

46 Comments

  • Jon Kitchen

    A very nice woman ,but I have been an empathetic person my entire life,and yet I am suddenly and repeatedly called a faggot libtard ,if I go to the store.I don't believe I need to change my actions,unless it's to protect myself with arms which I despise. I am not going to become a gun owner just because there are people who want to kill me for being a liberal thinker.

  • TheaDragonSpirit

    Lost me at do on to others how you would do to yourself!

    If someone wants to be raped and rape. Is it ok for them to rape?
    If someone wants to know the pain of been shot in the foot, is it ok for them to shoot you in the foot?

    No this is stupid. It should be: Be considerate of others and treat them how they want to be treat.
    Empathy is not about how you would feel in their position, it's understanding someone's life story it's about getting a deep understanding of how they think and how they would feel in that situation and being able to understand. You might not relate but you can still feel the pain of the situation based on their life and how they feel. You can feel what they would feel in that situation but because your life has been different in a similar situation you would feel different. So empathy is understanding others, not putting yourself in your shoes in that situation but putting yourself in there life and do your best to understand how you would of felt with that background in that situation. Empathy is deep emotional reasoning. It's not like awww that's cute, awww that's sad. No that's crap. Deep emotional reasoning is understanding feelings from many previous events and situations and actually feeling emotions, this allows people to care.

  • TheaDragonSpirit

    Everyone should always give people evidence and show how something they believe is wrong. Obviously people will not change instantly. People have beliefs not made out of ice cubes which melt instantly with a little heat, but out of stone, rocks, cement, it takes time to reshape or reorganise believes and facts once realised and at first people might not want to believe someone else and really fight the beliefs or facts given to them. Why? People need to make sure who every is saying something different to them is not wrong before they start reshaping their beliefs about anything.

    People do change and quite often they just don't make massive changes. If you look at how you where 10 years ago and look at how the media and life has shaped you, than you will realise the truth about change. Point being talking about beliefs and morals laying out the facts and beliefs you believe to be true is fine, that is the only way to make people more moral. Especially when these beliefs are based on facts and evidence.

    Talking alone isn't enough, people have to have the hard moral conversations the ones they don't always like, but to be moral that is what one has to do. That is if they truly want to be moral.

  • TheaDragonSpirit

    If Washington DC is not going to solve your problems scrap it make a new way to do government show everyone and start over. There is no point having a government you don't believe will work for you. Over wise that is called a dictatorship even if the 500 dictators all work together to get the country close to how they want, if you don't feel involved or part of it than it is broke and it needs fixing.

  • Kimberly Edwards

    What do you say to people who won't listen? What do you do when you listen to them, but they refuse to listen to you? What do you do when their hatred infringes on your rights? What do you do when the actions of others turn you into a target? Why should I treat people well when they treat me like garbage? You can't talk to some people. Some you can. I appreciate your advice for dealing with people who really believe they're helping things, but others are simply happy that their hatred can finally flourish.

  • Lindsay Heath

    This is so amazing. I needed to hear this. We're not covered in red tape-we're people! If we search fervently for thing we agree on we can make the world a better place.

  • Paullelujah

    Why didn't she mention ''Christianity'' when she talks about empathy? Everyone knows the verse in Luke 6:31 where Jesus says ''Do to others as you would have them do to you''.

  • Madhu .Devaji

    Absolutely beautiful to see true leadership and mature humanity in the public square. Bravo, Celeste. Keep it up.

  • Virtual Media

    Celeste is one of the most inspiring speakers of our time. We desperately need someone like her to get into politics…

  • David Houle

    I'd just say be careful with "why do you think that"? "why" questions can appear to be confrontational very easily. I'd say "tell me more about your thinking on that".

  • Cheyanne Smith

    ..she was on C-span's BOOK TV this afternoon and brought the house down. She is brilliant and we need more people like her doing what she does-trying to get people to commune
    icate.

  • Marcy Ellis

    Thank you SO much! Yes. This is what we need. Thank you for your insight & giving clear direction as to what we can do to restore & heal. <3

  • jchinckley

    You cannot expect to receive respect without giving it and most often giving it first. Don't wait to be respected. Just be respectful of everyone you ever met and will ever meet. Life is just better that way.

  • torrace12

    we can together get in to the state where we start to learn things. (by following Celestes advice) i think we can not change without being in that state, it is fixed in our genes that it is the way we do to change

  • Djoni Joensen

    we always think about the people, why don't we think about our self? we should really forget what OTHER people doing in their life, and spend more time to THINK!! what WE really are doing or thinking…

  • Djoni Joensen

    why do we have to take care of other people we dont know about ???? do we really want to spend our time to
    think what other people think and doing in their life? NO!! the world is smaller than we think it is, you can recognize any person you have met before for maybe couple of days- time- maybe YEARS!!

  • Djoni Joensen

    please stop talking about trump really! i can't stand him, he's is dangerous💥 and all kids in UNITED STATES🇺🇸 are really scared for him and SO AM i – aand i really understand ‼️

  • Djoni Joensen

    Celeste, you have to remember that we are only human being. And none of us are guilty, but innocent. We do bad thing, we do good things. Also on most on social media. Everything is dangerous today.

  • Harry R

    I’ve seen two talks given by Celeste and I always find myself infatuated with not only her knowledge, logic, and rationale, but also with the way she presents herself and her ideas

  • shrikant sabale

    You are just outstanding but when I will learn what you are teaching me is the biggest question!!! Thank you 🙏

  • Nina Hansen

    Unfortunately, her prediction has come true! The country has become more and more divided, more and more hostile to one another.

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