DiscoverTED Radio HourJust A Little Nicer

Just A Little Nicer

Update: 2016-12-096


Compassion is a universal virtue, but is it innate or taught? Have we lost touch with it? Can we be better at it? In this hour, TED speakers explore compassion: its roots, its meaning and its future. (Original broadcast date: December 19, 2014).

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support for this podcast in the following message come from concur a service where employees get simplified expense reports and business leaders get full visibility into their company spending habits expense travel invoice learn more at concurred dot com slash Radio Hour kits guy here during this holiday season with only a good idea to re broadcast a show called Just a little nicer if you think that you know maybe we love our compassion in the world this one is for you it's about compassion its roots its meaning and where we go from here this is the Head Radio Hour each week groundbreaking Ted talked at the Ted Technology Entertainment Design Design at Stanford delivered and had conferences around the world gift of the human imagination we had to believe in impossible the true nature of reality beckons just beyond those talks those ideas adapted for radio NPR guy rise and the show today just a little mice or ideas about compassion and empathy and is there any more compassionate place this time of year then cable news by the way in New York the week the The King of the voices you're hearing here is Sally Kohn Sally let's be honest here when you go to a play whether you're Barack Obama Michelle Obama or Mike Pence are from Sally Cohn is a columnist and a political commentator and CNN and that means she does this and the play they don't match the term political on you in the audience the only clear the air when he uses when Sally does for a living she argues with people and he knew about politics and for that she gets lots of hate mail can you take take take a year your iPhone or would he have there just doesn't read like some of the things that that people have have tweeted that your email to Just like in the past couple days let's see here just last night after putting Micah to bed after our Christmas tree decorating party I got a tweet that said the test that was at sea you can't really be that dumb I'm not sure how you were raised U sae the government wow that was spelled correctly so two thumbs up for Brad we go brand and so for Brad for Sally for all of us there are more ways than ever to be cruel or mean or nasty and yet as will hear from Ted speakers on the show today compassion is actually necessary for our health for a well functioning society for our survival and it's often easier to be compassionate then you might think it's like you know if you have that uncle who disagree with the holidays he still loves you you know might argue politics peace to love and they love you still nice the Karabakh but you would never say the things her uncle in person that people say to complete strangers on Twitter so you know we have to figure out a way to me learn compassion and that is ultimately being able to appreciate and validate someone else's experience even if it isn't our own even when you get all the stuff you kind of interest lies in the sea you know it actually I think that we can become more compassionate and I'm optimistic we're going to get there like six days at a sub the I allow myself so on Sundays just you know and and mope about the future of humanity alright so Sally's Ted tyke is short it's about four minutes and she spoke back when she worked as a progressive lesbian political pundit on Fox News ya heard that right just make sure and I made gay talking had on Fox News I tell you how I do it and the most important thing I've learned so I go on TV I debate people who literally want to obliterate everything I believe in some cases who don't want miie and people like me to even exist the hate mail I get is unbelievable last week alone I got two hundred thirty eight pieces of nasty e mail and more hate tweets that I can even count I was called an idiot Reader scored and an ugly man and that was just in one email so what I realized being on the receiving end of all this ugliness well my biggest takeaway is that for decades we've been focused on political correctness but what matters more is emotional correctness that own the feeling how we say what we say the respect and compassion we show one another and what I've realized is that political persuasion doesn't begin with ideas or facts or data political persuasion begins with being emotionally correct so when I first went to go work at Fox News true confession I expected there to be marks in the carpet from all the knuckle drag that by the way into contention is not emotionally correct but liberals on my side I we can be self righteous we can be condescending we can be dismissive of anyone who doesn't agree with us in other words we can be politically right but emotionally wrong and incidentally means that people don't like us right here's the kicker conservatives are really nice I mean not all of them and not the ones who send me hate mail but you would be surprised Sean Hannity is one of the sweetest guys ever met he spends his free time trying to fix up his staff on blind dates and I know that if I ever had a problem he would do anything he could to help now I think Sean Hannity is ninety nine percent politically wrong but his emotional correctness is strikingly impressive that's why people listen to it because you can't get anyone to agree with you don't listen to first actually sounds really hokey to sort of say at standing up here but when you try to put in practice it's really powerful not saying it's easy an average of like five point six times per day I have to stop myself from responding to all of my hate mail with a flurry of vile profanity is not perfect but what I am is optimistic because I don't just get hate mail I get a lot of really nice letters Watson one of my all time favorites begins I'm not a big fan of your political leanings or your sometimes tortured logic but I'm a big fan of you as a person now this guy doesn't agree with me yet but he's listening because of what I said but because of how I set it and somehow even though we've never met we've managed to form a connection hats emotional correctness and that's how we start the conversations that really need to change thank you the uh so what do you do do you look when you're with somebody who just whose views you think are totally like reprehensible you hate everything they say look do you think that just imagine what the world be like if I was them like you actually go through that process in your head yes and it is it's it's ah it's almost a meditative practice you know when someone or no pick an issue they don't want immigration reform because they're worried enough about in how the economy is changing in their community all of that and you know I think OK what emotionally can I connect with the economic anxiety piece I can connect with that and it's not just like I feel your pain I feel it to actually understand that feeling if I can start the conversation there with a connection and then say that's why actually I support immigration reform because XYZ PQ I'm not in validating that other person's experience and not validating their emotions their sense of the world I'm saying yet how your valid look we all want to be told that our feelings are valid I never thought they would be making his observation it seems to me that cable news has actually made you more compassionate wow think of right yeah I mean what kind as to think about that for a second but yes no there's no question that I am a now been thinking about this more more lately I have a you know we all I guess have a mean streak and I've definitely had to learn to temper that but compassion where it's not compassion for my neighbor my friend from my relatives compassion anonymous sense is a form of trust and faith and hope doesn't mean I don't lose faith like with any form of faith your faith isn't rider tested daily but if I did sort of if I didn't believe it were possible move them or when the bats that political pundits Sally Kohn who is actually a compassionate on TV she's got to tax you can find both of them at every corner trim around the the the the the year the premiums the seat selection here are the actually warm and cuddly guy really throws people if you could get like that I like a Sean Hannity plenty with you but it's not the will of course the title right to the entrance the the about the pointer to pointer to this point would be really interesting if so like Sally Cohn Krista Tippett also works in the media but she said Crist his conversations are a little different were you raised an Orthodox family this so this is the new tradition oil I know I've been screwed up in a very acidic time even when we're trying to be altruistic or generous or hard on ourselves I guess the one question though is very interesting is how to actually learn best through a change had only grows Crist a host of public radio show in the US it's called On Being which is about the great questions at the center of human life but it means to be human how we want to live the non being is the kind of show that actually makes you a more thoughtful person and forgetting that the White House awarded the National to Krista Tippett for thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence on the air and in print news tidbit avoids easy answers embracing complexity in writing you could call what Krista does compassion as she gives all kinds of people a forum to talk about the best beliefs without judgment and yet that word compassion it actually makes her cringe as she explained in her Ted talk the year to celebrate compassion compassion for my vantage point has a problem as essential as it is across our traditions as real as so many of us know it to be in particular life the word compassion is hollowed out in our culture and it is suspect in my field of journalism it's seen as a kind of squishy can buy off thing or it's seen as potentially depressing now compassion when it enters the news too often comes in the form of feel good feature pieces or sidebars about heroic people you could never be like or happy endings or examples of self sacrifice that would seem to be too good to be true most of the time our cultural imagination about compassion has been dead end by idealistic images so we'll come back in a moment Krista Tippett on how to bring meaning and half back to that word back to compassion and Guy rise and you're listening to the Ted Radio Hour from NPR I P Everyone Just a quick thanks to two of our sponsors who help keep this podcast going first email champ join more than twelve million people and businesses around the world to use Mail chimp to connect with their customers and market their products and grow their businesses in ways that feel right for them male chimp being yourself makes all the difference thanks also to stamp stuck on when your running a small business constant trips to the post office can waste time and energy especially when it's packed during the busy holiday season Santa for stamps the com so you can start buying and printing official US postage for all your letters and packages right from your desk using your own computer and printer right now stamp set com has this special offer for our listeners when you sign up to four week trial plus postage and a digital scale to stamp the com click on the microphone and tape in Radio Hour it's the Ted Radio Hour from NPR and Guy rise show today just a little nicer ideas about compassion so right before the break we were hearing the start of Krista Tippett stead tat Crist as the host of the public radio show on being in her big idea is that we need to rethink the meaning of compassion what I would say is that compassion is a coup or virtue that has within it a lot of the other virtues you know that either either contains them or contributes to them so that it's a really central lands on you know what it looks like to lead own words in life and with graceful motion and and purpose on this and I think a sense of meaning here's Krista again on the Ted stage compassion is a piece of vocabulary that could change us if we truly let it sink in to the standards by which we hold ourselves and others so I'd like to do this morning is perform a linguistic resurrection and hope you'll come with me and my basic premise that words matter that the shape with the way we understand ourselves the way we interpret the world and the way we treat others so what is it three dimensional e what are its kindred and component parts what's in its universe of attendant for choose to start simply want to say that compassion is kind now kindness might sound like a very mild ordinance prone to its own abundant a cliche but kindness is a kind of everyday by product of all the great virtues and it is a most edifying form of instant gratification compassion is also curious compassion cultivates in practice is curiosity compassion can be with empathy it can with the harder work of forgiveness and reconciliation but it can also express itself and the simple act of presence it's linked to practical virtues like generosity and hospitality and just being there just showing the mail so you do right by listening to people that that's an act of compassion I mean listening is a hugely powerful form of attention its presence and if listening you are genuinely curious and you are open to be surprised and changed by what comes back at you the social compassion necessarily about agreeing with somebody else it's not even necessarily about liking them it is about making a choice to honor their humanity so I know that the way I think about you you you personified compassion right and you are you know just this incredibly understanding and empathetic person all the time and that you just kind of live these things so is that right no no it's okay to cry I mean I live these things sometimes I probably spend more time thinking about them I spent a lot of time in conversation with people who are embodying them I do my best you know I do my best but I'm not I'm not always able to rise to this time I think would have gotten better at is the forgiving mice fell for that and getting up the next day in and you know maybe doing a little bit better define yourself like re calibrate in your care compassion compass like reminding yourself to sink a certain way or to do certain things you know um I actually think that compassion that we should treat compassion learning compassion in becoming more compassionate likely treat learning to play the piano to throw a ball that it's actually something that we can decide we're going to practice and so you know rather than saying I have to become this compassionate person so they can act this way actually think this is one of these things where the more we do it it actually then starts to work on us from the inside is something you teach it yet you teach it and them anymore then it becomes instinctive just as we are hardwired to to learn to learn a language I do absolutely think were born with this redemptive capacity to be compassionate then again we have to start practices around each other we have to start it to embody it in front of our children and in our common life to think that that will be infectious culture is obsessed with perfection and was hiding problems but what thing to realize that our problems in fact probably are resources for rising to this ultimate virtue of compassion towards bringing compassion towards the suffering and joys of others Einstein became a humanitarian not because of his exquisite knowledge of space and time and matter but because he was at U S Germany or fascist compassion can't be reduced to sainthood anymore than I can be reduced to petty so I want to propose a final definition of compassion and that would be for us a call to compassion a spiritual technology our traditions contain vast wisdom about this and we need them to mine it for us now but compassion is also equally at home in the secular as in the religious so I will paraphrase Einstein in closing and say that humanity the future of humanity needs this technology as much as it needs all the others that have now connected us and set before us the terrifying possibility of actually becoming one human race the The Krista Tippett she's the creator and host of the weekly public radio program on being you can check out her entire talk to Ed that NPR dot org So compassion and good idea we like it redemptive capacity blah blah blah right and this is not controversial stuff we all want more compassion around us so why something so obviously simple so hard science writer Robert Wright says blame the reptilian part of your brain he sees all the time that road rage you know that road rage the more you think about it the stupider it is but the rage itself the tendency to become enraged when someone disrespect shoe is a natural it made sense together and somebody who literally this morning was honking at me as I was driving my children to school just really brutally hockey at what they think was unjustified whatever was you did right before the heart in your bus sure of it this just reading slowly doing well people like you to create the show that feeling that is unfortunately a normal part of being human it turns out so is compassion and there are reasons why our species evolved to be that way it's an idea Robert explained on the Ted stage the title of a stock is the evolution of compassion it's not going to sound is warm and fuzzy reviews are average compassion talking when warned about that I'm so in the beginning there was compassion and I mean not just when human beings first showed up but actually even before that I think it's probably the case that in the human evolutionary lineage even before there were homo sapiens feelings like compassion and love and sympathy had had urged their way into the gene pool and biologists have a pretty clear idea of how this first happened it happened through a principle known as kin selection in the basic idea of kin selection is that if an animal feels compassion for close relative in this compassion leads the animal to help the relatives in the Inn and the compassion actually winds up helping the genes underlying the compassion itself from a biologist point of view compassion is actually a jeans way of helping its own ok so I warn you this was not going to be very warm and fuzzy a k a the the the so that would suggest that compassion is not entirely altruistic right it's actually like selfish in nature and well anything built into us by natural selection has to ultimately have to kind of self serving logic and self serving at the at the level of the gene I don't think that needs to drain the inspirational power out of compassion or insane or make us think any less of it I think we should be grateful that it seemingly dog eat dog process like natural selection leftists with emotion compassion that not only do we naturally deployed beyond our families but true reflection can actually learn to deploy the very white thus the lower cost of the small moments with where our compassion is being tested and we and we don't always rise to the occasion it is interesting dynamic that you may or may not notice which is when you see a beggar and you're not going to give the money you really don't want to make eye contact with yes it happens all the time right in my answers of why that is and I think the answer is that one is saying compassion is designed to do is to get us to not necessarily strictly speaking help people but be seen as helping them write so it's very important to us that our generosity be acknowledged and it seems to be kind of painful to us when we ignore a plea for help and are seen to be doing that the because remember in the environment over evolution you know kind of a hunter gatherer society everyone would be someone you're going to be seen again and again and again and so to deprive someone help they were asking for was kind of be asking to pay a price for that down the road if you needed their help or wanted their systems the the more good news that came along later in evolution a second kind of evolutionary logic biologists call that reciprocal altruism ok in there the basic idea is that compassion leads you to do good things for people whose end will return the favor again you know I know this is this is not not as inspiring an ocean of compassion you you may have her in the past from biologists point to you this reciprocal altruism kind of compassion it is ultimately self serving it to it's not that people think that when they feel the compassion is not consciously self serving but to a biologist that's the logic it sits in so you wind up most easily extending compassion to friends and allies I'm sure a lot of you you know if a close friend has something really terrible happened to them you feel really bad and but if you read the newspaper that something really horrible happen to somebody never heard of you know you can probably live with that okay that's just that's that's human nature and certain other another good news bad news story it's good that compassion was extended beyond the family by this kind of evolutionary logic the bad news is is this doesn't bring as universal compassion by itself ok so the store can be done mm anyhow we show compassion elite are like if you just hate tours really cruelty that you know it's not easy to be compassionate all the time it's hard because we are designed to feature being good or not we are designed to convince ourselves that are very selective deployment of compassion is thoroughly justified the good news is that we have compassion we believe that it should definitely be channeled toward deserving people but then the bad news is we define deserving people in a self serving way at least by nature we can overcome this on and on reflection but we have a tendency to be consciously selfish try ballistic whatever in the way we go about deciding who were going to give our compassion to you know it's in a certain sincerity challenge humanity has been moving toward like forever here we are on the brink of having a global civilization and yet we're not doing a very good job of it even though as we've been moving toward this point the knowledge that should help us do it has been accumulating we understand the problem than what's what's holding us back ultimately gets back to the fact that natural selection is a process that designs thing I use for purposes of serving self interest and what is in fact self serving has changed over time and yet we're stuck with these brains that were designed in an age where what was self serving was was different when you look at like the course of human history and stuff forces that are propelling us forward arh you optimistic Andi think that we're becoming better more progressive involved compassionate people well the good news is that the logic behind being nice to other people is growing stronger and stronger because technology has made our fates more and more intertwined and we're designed to be to people if their fate is intertwined with ours the bad news is we see not always good at recognizing how in
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