Ideas Worth Sharing

This weekend I attended the TEDxRanier Conference. This one-day event was held in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, and featured a series of presenters who spoke on topics ranging from culture, to entertainment, to high tech and global health. TEDxRanier was modeled after the TED Conferences, which take place in Long Beach, California and Oxford, England every year. If you’ve never seen a TED speech, you can do so here. TED’s motto is elegantly simple: Ideas worth spreading. I like it this. Admittedly, there is something vaguely utopian about the TED Conference. That is, “If we get a bunch of people together in a beautiful auditorium and have speakers come share ideas, the world will transform into a peaceful, happy place.” Meanwhile, bombs and housing prices continue to fall.

But wait, creating a perfect world isn’t the point. Ideas worth spreading is the point. Whether we mean to or not, we are sharing ideas all the time, every day, probably every hour. Here’s an idea: Nice guys finish last. Just an idea, mind you. Here’s another one: All politicians are liars. Or how about this: The ebook will spell the end of literary fiction.

These ideas and ones like them spread to me, if you will, through newspapers and casual conversations; through movies and pop songs. In some cases, the one spreading the idea was doing so consciously. More often, however, the dissemination happened relatively unconsciously – a reaction to a moment of panic, or powerlessness, or frustration. And yet, impulsive though it was, the idea spread just the same.

I didn’t agree with everything shared at the TEDxRanier Conference, but I did agree with its intention, an intention that was palpable throughout the day, and what I found most invigorating when all the talking was over: deliberate dissemination. That is, since ideas are spread all the time, since the spread of ideas is inextricable from the fabric of human society, shouldn’t we be deliberate about it? The answer, of course, is yes. And not just in conferences, but in conversation, in emails, and in novels.

The moment someone takes responsibility for the ideas they share, the moment they acknowledge that any human voice can reach any human heart, for good or bad, that person assumes full authority. Cede that authority to impulse or fear, and the seeds you spread will bear a fruit you will only complain about next season. But if you retain the authority, if you accept the responsibility of conscious choice, the world as a whole may not change over night, but the world of what you do and know will improve immediately.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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