We are just back from our annual pilgrimage to the church of TED – the 2014 edition of “Ideas worth Sharing ”. It has the feeling of an old time revival, a container and showcase for the unbounded spirit of imaginative and creative capacity. And, as always, the sum of the whole is greater than it’s parts. We are covering the emergent themes for this year, and one is Making Space for the Other’s Experience.
Throughout this year’s TED, there was a fundamental call for tolerance. We have to allow for others to have their own experience of being human without judging, much less persecuting them. Again and again, we were asked to courageously open up and broaden our thinking beyond out cultural prejudices.
Supermodel Geena Rocero came out as having been born a boy, and transgender tolerance, saying that “gender is not a fact – it’s more fluid, complex & mysterious”, and that while ”gender identity is core to our being, sometimes that assignment doesn’t match. There should be space to self-identify.” This call for space, for an allowing of others experience, was also evident in other talks.
Zak Ebrahim, son of a top terrorist spoke. He recalled a conversation with his mother, where in her incredible fatigue she sighed, ”I’m tired of hating people”. In that moment, Zak realized “what a tremendous amount of energy it takes to hold onto hate.” He spoke eloquently about the evolution of his own worldview, the value of exposure to many kinds of people and the increasing ability to think for yourself despite cultural conditioning. One of the sweetest elements of his talk was it’s simplicity: a summer job working at Busch Gardens, serving a wide variety of people, was a key eye opening to diversity that started him on a path.
Whether it was Yoruba Richen on LGBT civil rights, and making the connection to the civil rights movement for blacks, or Shaka Senghor on creating room in society for those who have done time (“your misdeeds do not define you”), or Isabel Allende talking about the perspective and experience of aging, or Mellody Hobson on being “colorbrave, not colorblind” with regards to race, or Masarat Daud making the case for just allowing women to choose the burkah without judging them.
Taken as a whole, we saw so many cross-fired judgments named from the stage, with targeted, well articulated stories begging us to arrest our prejudices and make space for each other, make space for gentleness.