TED Talks educate and inspire

TED Talks seek to teach and encourage a world of ever increasing knowledge. The Knight Errant has highlighted the following favorites on a variety of topics that range from simple changes to complex theory––demonstrating the true breadth of the program now entering its 30th year.


Alok Vaid-Menon: “We are nothing (and that is beautiful)”
All too often in this hectic world students and adults get caught up in the need to impress and constantly work towards future success. This unhealthy practice reaps recurring societal and psychological problems as Mr. Vaid-Menon so insightfully acknowledges. Beginning with a spoken word poem, he highlights this all too prevalent truth: that in a world of so many we really are nothing, but that instead of what society tells us, this is something that should be embraced and celebrated. Noting that failing to live up to what society puts on a pedestal as the picture of success, will in reality bring about real and concrete change––it’s not the problems that have been manufactured through years of careful construction, but instead a change in mindset that matters.


Graham Hill: “Why I’m a Weekday Vegetarian”
Complex issues fail to inspire social change, especially when it comes to food related issues. While TED Talks sometimes present daunting issues with insignificant solutions, Graham Hill proposes a more manageable way to reduce the harmful effects of meat without the negative side effects of an all vegetarian diet; eating meat on weekends, and vegetables on weekdays. This simple change can have a sizeable impact on the body and the planet, making a significant cut to the second most deadly pollutant: animals. So instead of clutching for the all-American cheeseburger, take a break throughout the week––animals and the planet will reap the benefits.


Jackson Katz: “Violence Against Women––it’s a Men’s Issue” 
Breaking down the social construct of power and privilege, Jackson Katz, an anti-sexism advocate, shows an intelligent understanding of the way that violence against women should be approached. Katz does an impressive job of stating that it’s not the fault of women, whose voices on this subject are not often heard, but rather the result of centuries of institutionalized sexism, which the majority, in this instance men, can break. Outlining a tool known as the “bystander approach,” a technique often used in bullying prevention, he is able to more effectively demonstrate the way in which social change can be brought about. Instead of employing the construct of political correctness, Katz instead argues that men who rebel against dominant culture using leadership are courageous, and that it’s the responsibility of adult men to be more active in this role in order to inspire progressive change.


Joe Smith: “How to use one paper towel”
This quick and lighthearted TED Talk holds a strong message beneath the laughter. The world climate is in desperate need of addressing, but the intimidating figures and futuristic predictions of its impact can seem out of reach and unavoidable. That’s where Joe Smith comes in, a former politician and environmental activist, who impressively demonstrates how 571 million pounds of paper could be saved in a year by Americans alone, simply by using one less paper towel. A sacrifice indeed, Mr. Smith is able to demonstrate the proper technique of the one paper towel method, making it a manageable and impactful change.


Dave Meslin: “The Antidote to Apathy”
The phrase “I hate politics” is one often said by many in the current generation. A disdain for the pomp and circumstance or seemingly impossible task of making a difference, contribute to an attitude of “easier to ignore than fix.” Dave Meslin argues that in fact, the opposite is true––we care about making changes, but often times aren’t exactly sure how to go about it, in part, due to an immense amount of obstacles in the way. But despite these barriers, Meslin reinforces the notion that politics is not a spectator sport, adding that it must be a collective, voluntary, and even sometimes imperfect effort towards a common goal. Perhaps even more important, he notes that citizens already possess the drive necessary to make in impact, and some simple reinvigorating of existing ideas to make it happen.