Ideas worth sharing

So the first ever TEDxExeter takes place tomorrow with the theme of “Sustainability and our interconnected world”. The TED conferences, so they say, are all about “ideas worth spreading.” The beginning of their mission statement reads as follows:
“We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”

My mind is already buzzing with thoughts about the ideas that will be discussed. In particular I am keen to hear Satish Kumar talking about “Soil, soul and society”, Peter Cox “Thinking outside the low carbon box” and Scilla Elworthy considering how to “deal with a bully without becoming a thug.”

With so much gloom around in the popular media it is easy to underestimate the power of people working collaboratively. Events like this highlight the incredible changes that ordinary people can bring about working together often on unglamorous, seemingly insignificant projects and with little recognition. I find it so tempting to be drawn into discussions about how to change the world only to feel to daunted by the scale of the task to fully commit to anything meaningful.

I have come to realise that I value action so highly that I often discount the power of ideas. Yet the actions of one individual when viewed in isolation rarely amount to even a microscopic change in the bigger picture. One person cannot build a cathedral or a pyramid. However, one person can think of an idea so powerful that it can affect the entire world so much more profoundly than any cathedral ever could. For example take the oldest of chichés about good ideas; who invented the wheel? The simple fact is no-one knows. It has probably been ‘invented’ many times by many people. What matters is not the number or quantity of wheels that these people churned out but the revolutionary idea that they had.

So here’s to the power of ideas…


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