Entry #3

“The moral roots of liberals and conservatives” by Jonathan Haidt, is a Ted talk that dives into exactly what the title suggests, but I don’t think it dives deep enough and on top of that I felt that it came off as incredibly bias. The opening moment of the video was  a comparison between a conservative reacting to the statue of David and a liberal reacting to it, the purpose of this was to make the point that statistically liberals have more of a wanting and openness to new experiences whereas conservatives prefer stability and little to no change. I don’t have a problem with that point but in the execution the slideshow showed the conservative as childish an uncultured individual and that visual was followed up by Jonathan making multiple jokes at the expense of the conservative, things of this exact nature were all throughout the presentation. Now I love jokes just as much as the next guy and he certainly knew his audience because they were howling with laughter but this overarching sense of judgement lessened the importance of his point. 

The presentation paints a picture of difference between conservatives and liberals, the difference being one side wanting openness, forward thinking and change and the other wanting tradition, stability and non-change. I believe the problem is that he doesn’t express the importance of these two sides and what they both do for humanity and evolution, he does mention an idea of being open to your biases and trying to embrace the other side but even in that there is a feeling of  “us as liberals are better than them but we need to do our best to understand how they think” when it should be “I can’t know the importance of all sides from my side so I should do my best to meet in the middle”. But back to the importance of these two sides. I use to think about these two sides and be impossibly angry that people could think in such a stagnant way but I had an eye opening moment when I took this context and applied it to evolution.

Imagine the first being that ever walked on land and all the evolutionary cells inside that being, my feeling is that half of the cells inside were advocating for least change because there is safety in that and why abandon a working system for the unknown and the other half of the cells wanted to grow some legs and oxygen breathing apparatus because life just might be better and more healthy for everyone if we take this risk. In this process there’s a tipping point when eventually the cells that want change finally get majority and suddenly things change, but that back and forth is important and essential and sometimes least change means greatest effect. I think all of this applies to now and to this presentation because to be under the impression that conservatives are ignorant or stuck is problematic, and I know he didn’t say that or anything close to that but that is the feeling that I got after watching it twice and taking their survey.

I didn’t love this Ted talk by any means but I loved the direction it was going.

Gopal Harrington