Full Transcript of sociologist Sam Richards’ TEDx Talk: A Radical Experiment in Empathy at TEDxPSU Conference.
My students often ask me, “What is sociology?” and I tell them it’s the study of the way in which human beings are shaped by things that they don’t see.
And they say “So, how can I be a sociologist? How can I understand those invisible forces?”
And I say, “Empathy.” Start with empathy. It all begins with empathy. Take yourself out of your shoes and put yourself into the shoes of another person.
Here, I’ll give you an example. So I imagine my life if a hundred years ago, China had been the most powerful nation in the world, and they came to the United States in search of coal. And they found it, and in fact they found lots of it right here. And pretty soon they began shipping that coal ton by ton, rail car by rail car, boat load by boat load back to China and elsewhere around the world. And they got fabulously wealthy in doing so. And they built beautiful cities all powered on that coal.
And back here in the United States – back here we saw economic despair, depravation. This is what I saw. I saw people struggling to get by, not knowing what was what and what was next.