TED Talk Challenge #13: Why aren’t we all Good Samaritans?
November 24, 2011 Leave a comment
This is a question I’ve been asking for a couple of years now. Many, in fact I’d say most people are under the impression the human race is generally evil. Watching the news programs you could be forgiven for agreeing with this sentiment. Having so many of our world religions echoing the idea (or perhaps even driving it) isn’t helping issues.
But I dare to challenge that idea. I don’t think for a second people are evil. I wouldn’t even say people are bad. I’d say the majority of people are in fact good. Those that aren’t good and would often be labelled evil by others, I’d say most of them are indifferent.
Think for a moment on all the people you know. I’m sure the vast majority of them are decent people. Probably even good people. Sure you could probably pick a couple of bad eggs out of the lot, but odds are you just don’t like them. That doesn’t make them bad people. I have plenty of friends of friends who I have absolutely no interest in. We just have nothing in common. I don’t like them, but I certainly wouldn’t call them evil in any sense of the word. Of the people you don’t like, how many would you truly say you hate, or are bad people? I imagine there wouldn’t be many. Of those few, how many of them behave the way they do due to their life circumstances? Are they underprivileged? Were they mistreated when they were younger?
I find it’s extremely rare to know someone is a complete jerk just for the hell of it. There’s always a reason.
I was very happy to see this idea backed up by research in the 10th TED Talk challenge, ‘What do babies think?’. Apparently babies are born with a certain amount of empathy already there. Most of the time it gets trained out of us, not trained in.
Before we get on with the TED Talk video, I wanted to share another I’ve been holding on to for a month or so, waiting for the right time to do a post about it. I think now is appropriate.
Forget for a moment that this is an ad for NAB. The sentiment in the video is worth it.
There’s three videos in this campaign. The other two are just as good and can be found here:
The vast majority are not only decent people, but people who will go out of their way for a little act of kindness. And the same can be said for the entire human population, throughout most of history. Yes, every now and then we have horrible tragedies where an individual or small group makes our species look bad. Unfortunately these events are often so bad they stick in our minds for years, even centuries. What we need to remember is that these events are the anomaly, not the norm.
People, give yourselves a pat on the back. The odds are in your favour that you’re a good person.
And now, on with the TED Talk, where Daniel Goleman will further back up my point of view 😉