This is a great Ted Talk. Some snippets…
“it was important for me to view the issue as a controversial one with a long history, a questionable future and a host of complicating factors.
” My mom wanted me to understand that I should never just write off opinions that I disagreed with or disliked, because there was always something to learn from the perspectives of others, even when doing so might be difficult.
” My mother even said that, in order to put my best foot forward, I had to be patient, alert and excruciatingly well-mannered….I had to show poise and confidence, the ability to speak well and listen closely.
” Of course, no one likes being offended, and I certainly don’t like hearing controversial speakers argue that feminism has become a war against men or that blacks have lower IQs than whites. I also understand that some people have experienced traumatic experiences in their lives. And for some, listening to offensive views can be like reliving the very traumas that they’ve worked so hard to overcome.
” In order to understand the potential of society to progress forward, we need to understand the counterforces. By engaging with controversial and offensive ideas, I believe that we can find common ground, if not with the speakers themselves, then with the audiences they may attract or indoctrinate. Through engaging, I believe that we may reach a better understanding, a deeper understanding, of our own beliefs and preserve the ability to solve problems, which we can’t do if we don’t talk to each other and make an effort to be good listeners.
“to achieve progress in the face of adversity, we need a genuine commitment to gaining a deeper understanding of humanity. I’d like to see a world with more leaders who are familiar with the depths of the views of those they deeply disagree with, so that they can understand the nuances of everyone they’re representing. I see this as an ongoing process involving constant learning, and I’m confident that (we)’ll be able to add value down the line if (we) continue building empathy and understanding through engaging with unfamiliar perspectives.”