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TEDxPSU - Sam Richards - A Radical Experiment in Empathy

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My students often ask me: "What is Sociology"? and I tell them it is a study of the way when human beings are shipped by things that they don't see and they say so how can I be a sociologist? How can I understand all the invisible forces? And I say empathy. Start with empathy. It all begins with empathy. Take yourself out of your shoes. Put yourself into the shoes of another person. Here, I will give you an example. So imagine my life. If a hundred years ago, China has been the most powerful nation in the world. And they came to the United States and search of coal and they found it and in fact they found a lot of it, right here and pretty soon, they begin shipping that coal ton by ton rail cart by rail cart, boat load by boat load back to China and elsewhere the world. And they got fabulous and wealthy by doing so. And they built beautiful cities or powered on that coal. back here? in the United States? Back here? We saw economics despair desperation. That is what I saw, right? I saw people struggling to get by. Not knowing what was what and what was next. And I asked myself a question. I say how is possible we could be so poor here in United States because the coals is such a wealthy resources, so much money? And I realized because the Chinese ingushiated themselves they small ruling class here in United States, who stole all that money and all that wealth to themselves. And the rest of us, the rest majority of us? Struggle to get by. And the Chinese give this small XXX XXX military weapons seficicated technology in order to ensure that the people like me would not speak out against this relationship. Does this sound familiar? And they did the things like train Americans to help them protect the coal. In everywhere, were the symbols of Chinese. Everywhere a constant reminder. And back in China? What they see in China? Nothing~ They don't talk about us. XXXX the coal. If you ask them, they would say well you know the coal we need the coal, I mean come on. I'm not gonna turn down my XXX step. You can't expect that. So I get angry, and I get pissed. As you, a lots of average people, and we fight back. And it gets really ugly. And the Chinese responses in very ugly way. And before we know they are sending the tanks and they are sending the troops. And a lots of people are dying. And it's a very very difficult situation. So, can you feel me? Can you imagine what you would feel if you are in my shoes? Can you imagine walking out of this building seeing a tank is sitting there or a truck is full of soldiers. Its just a imagine what you would feel because you know what why they are here, and you know what they are doing here. You just feel the anger and the fear. Ok? If you can, that's empathy. Left your shoes, and you stood in mine. You can feel that. Ok, that's the warm up. Now, we are gonna have the real radical experiment. Its so for the reminder of my talk. What I want you to do is to put yourself into a shoes of a ordinary air Muslim living in the middle east and in particular in Iraq, so to help you. Perhaps you remember of this middle class family in Baghdad. And what you want is the bests for your kids. You want your kids to have better life. XXX news, you pay attention, you read the newspaper you go to that coffee shop with your friends. And you read the newspaper around the world and sometimes you even want to satellite CNN from US. You have XXX the Americans are thinking. But really you just want better life for yourself. Thats what you want. You are muslim living in Iraq. You want a better life for yourself. So here, let me help you, let me help you with something you might be thinking No 1, this is an incursion until your land? This past 20 years and before?

Video Details

Duration: 19 minutes and 14 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: TEDx
Director: Sam Richards
Views: 187
Posted by: kyaky on Nov 30, 2010

Sam Richards is a sociologist and award-winning teacher who has been inspiring undergraduate students at Penn State since 1990. Every semester, 725 students register for his Race and Ethnic Relations course, one of the most popular classes at Penn State and the largest of its kind in the country. Through his natural ability of seeing a subject from many angles, Richards encourages students to engage more fully with the world and to think for themselves — something he did not do until his third year in college. Because of his passion for challenging students to open their minds, an interviewer recently referred to him as "an alarm clock for eighteen-year-olds."

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