TED Talks is one of the innovative inventions in last twenty manage to enter the top entrepreneurial mission one can define as success. It is the essence of what good Internet use is all about. Briefly said, it is sharing good and creative ideas while inspiring and promoting the feeling of joy for the progress of men and women. That being said, no great invention can, and should, exist without some criticism. I personally heard comments that had implied the conferences as elitists, others that say it´s a waste of time of serious men and women, scientists and person of culture, and some speakers even complained about censuring their talks. Taking into account this criticism, one cannot argue with the hundreds of thousands of view for every recently-uploaded Talk or with the smile and awe most people immediately get when discussing the last TED Talk.
So, to celebrate the release of my TEDx Talk video I thought of scribing some words about this memorable and wonderful experience. As it seems, about three months ago I had the chance to participate in a TEDx event. I was one of eight speakers, all of us excited and nervous, no matter what was our background and experiences we lived.
The title of my talk is Trip to Awareness and New Trispective about Life. In it I shared experiences, as well as wonderful, exuberance, life filling events that made my life rich and interesting. Many adventures, of the kind that for years were left unspoken, were revealed on this TEDx stage, mentioning some travels I did and the subsequent thoughts I had. As it seems, after many travels and adventures in different countries experiencing and learning about cultures, languages and some of the similar preoccupations we share, I might have managed to reach few exciting conclusions. The Talk was an exciting event, and although I was asked for more journey anecdotes as well as experiences I acquired, I think I succeeded inserting some of the mindful conclusions I had and the unique and pragmatic theory about life (some of which can be found in my books).
I did not say it during the Talk but without any doubt, it is inspired from a book I published in 2012 called Trispectivism (from which part of the title and this very blog are derived). In it I elaborate the method of thought process that I used to arrive to that theory and, as mentioned, was pondering about the wonderful experiences I had in the many countries I have traveled and lived.
When I think about this TEDx experience, one particular thought comes to mind: The TEDx Paradox. It is the constant effort to balance between what one might see as egocentric blabber and a necessary explanation about oneself. How does one choose wisely what to say about the things he or she did, what is great, what is mediocre and what is common and might seem as over-reacting self consumed person? As an academic, I participate in conferences regularly for the last 5 years but this experience is quite different. Presenting your work in front of experts in the matter that will judge your academic or professional ability turned out to be quite different from presenting yourself in front of a large variety of curious people with different backgrounds that will judge you according to how you present yourself in public.
“Just look above the audience”, was the first of few good advices I received and gladly assimilated. Another one was to engage with the audience, this one I failed to follow. Yet my learning experience was more than those advices and seeing my limitations but also about fear, responsibility and doubts before, and while, the Talk.
But maybe the important conclusion for me is that the Talk initiated one of the most significant contemplation I did in recent years and that is the realization that in spite of my amazing experiences, I began to acknowledge how little I have actually done to make the world a better place. This introspective reasoning rearranged my priorities and now, at the age of 36 it´s time to try and give back no matter how little we might think any contribution one can make.
And to end this, nothing better than the words of TED founder in person:
And to end this, nothing better than the words of TED founder in person:
The reflections of Emile Durkheim, the person considered by many as the father of Sociology, are relevant to the understanding of any modern era social problems. According to his theory, there are some structural effects in society that by acknowledging them, one might be able to organize better. Now, I´m not a sociologist but the resemblance of certain parts of his writings to the universal idea of Trispectivism captured my attention. Well, that and an article someone brought to my attention that blames the Western European societies in the recent clash with some radical Muslims.
Actually, when talking about the Western world and in particular about the differences between the US and countries as France, Denmark and England, the most obvious social issue that is noticeable is with the difficulties with the Other. While the US fights with that omniscient Other abroad, meaning, extrinsic alterity problems, the Europeans have to fight it intrinsically, in their cities and amongst their population.
Ironically, in the beginning to the middle of the 20th century many thinkers mentioned Durkheim’s theory of the differences between Social Solidarity to predict that the US will collapse from interior conflicts because of the immigrant that were swarming into the neo-promisedland. With a capitalist system and thought, surely the individualism will thrive, separating the different groups into heterogenic groups that eventually will deteriorate the country from within, or that is what they predicted.
As we now know, in the US the immigrant manage to integrate unimaginably better than the EU immigrants. While there are, of course, some racial issues and the streets are rivers of prejudice and a-prioris, the level of hostility and anger is small in relative to the old continent.
So what is the difference? Durkheim divided Social Solidarity into Mechanical Solidarity and Organic Solidarity. The first is collective consciousness in beliefs, work, thinking the same about value, which, as you have might guessed can remind us the Marxist way of thinking. It is when the social forms a unity (as bird flock of fish schools). The Organic solidarity, on the other hand, is more to describe modern societies, that are based on functional interdependence.
Both of the paradigms can be explained with the trispect mindset, after all, in every discussion about society the use of Trispectivism is obvious and even necessary. There is the individual, whether indigenous or immigrant, interacting with the universal (the social sphere, the country), and the change between the configuration of one system and another is the interaction, which is constant and prone to continuous modification. While in the EU there is a kind of emphasis on the social group acting as one (even with the capitalist influence), the Americans give more relevance to the fact that an individual, any individual will want to succeed, thrive, live better and thus will have to develop a will to integrate into the current. Free will and personal effort of integration from the individual in the US has turn out to be incredibly different from the country programs of integration and continuous effort to make it seem as one happy family.
France is a great example of that, today with more than 6 millions of Muslims that making about 14% of the total population, the country is in disarray. Immigrants find themselves as marginal groups unable to comply with the rest of the traditional ties that were assumed by the locals many years back. Thus, instead of integration we see self-segregation, a search for another identity. When in the US one creates an identity within a multiple of other individual identities, in the EU, one creates a sphere within a beating social collectiveness. This is more terrifying than any crazy radical individual on the American ‘higher unity’ of individuals, as Simmel described it.
There are many other components in this equation, no doubt, state of economic crisis, the fact that the numbers of immigrant augmented immensely in the last 30 years and many more.
So, to reiterate, it seems to me that the problem of assimilation in the EU is BECAUSE of erroneous programs of assimilation of the governments and not the lack of them. The reality is that while the immigrant feels as if the country owes him equal rights, he will most likely do the least possible to attain them (generally speaking of course). While if US makes it clear that rights are not attainable but by proving you are worthy of them, the country thrive on hard working, assimilated new Americans. The interdependence of many individuals is a well established reality that is function better than the ideal of one social collective body.
Why, one might ask, does the sporadic radical Muslim, attacks, act and react mostly in France, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, when other countries, little further in the region, in Africa on in many other places have a much more bloodier history with the Muslim world (not only under the Ottoman Empire). Why is it that Charlie Hebdo and some Jews in a kosher market get to be the target for radical, mal-integrated, group of 2nd generation individuals? Or is it simply a question of media coverage? Who know?