Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ( applause ) 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 weatlthy in doing so. They built beautiful cities all powered on that coal. And back here in the United States 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. And I asked myself a question. I say, "How is it possible that we can be so poor in the United States, because the coal is such a wealthy resource. It's so much money?" And I realize because the Chinese ingratiated themselves with a small ruling class here in the United States who stole all of that money and all of that wealth for themselves. And the rest of us, the vast majority of us struggle to get by. And the Chinese gave this small ruling elite loads of military weapons and sophisticated technology in order to insure that people like me would not speak out against this relationship. Does this sound familiar? And they did things like train Americans to help protect the coal. And everywhere were symbols of the Chinese. Everywhere a constant reminder. And back in China? What do they say in China? Nothing. They don't talk about us. They don't talk about the coal. If you ask them they'll say, "Well, you know, the coal? We need the coal. I mean, come on." "I'm not going to turn down my thermostat. You can't expect that." And so I get angry and I get pissed, as do lots of average people, and we fight back. And it gets really ugly and the Chinese respond in a very ugly way. And before we know it they've sent in the tanks and they've sent in the troops and lots of people are dying. And it's a very, very difficult situation. So, can you feel me? Can you imagine what you would feel if you were in my shoes? Can you imagine walking out of this building and seeing a tank sitting out there or a truck full of soldiers. Just imagine what you would feel because you know why they're here and you know what they're doing here, and you just feel the anger and you feel the fear. Okay? If you can, that's empathy. That's empathy. You've left your shoes and stood in mine. And you gotta feel that. Okay, so that's the warmup. That's the warmup. Now we're going to have the real radical experiment. And so for the remainder of my talk what I want you to do is put yourselves in the shoes of an ordinary Arab Muslim living in the Middle East, in particular in Iraq. And so to help you-- perhaps you're a member of this middle class family in Baghdad. And what you want is the best for your kids. You want your kids to have a better life. And you watch the news. You pay attention. You read the newspaper. You go down to the coffee shop with your friends. And you read the newspapers from around the world, and sometimes you even watch satellite CNN from the United States so you have a sense of what the Americans are thinking. But really you just want a better life for yourself. That's what you want. You're Arab Muslim living in Iraq. You want a better life for yourself. So here, let me help you. Let me help you with some things that you might be thinking. Number one, this incursion into your land these past twenty years and before? The reason anyone's interested in your land in particular the United States? It's oil. But it's all about oil. You know that. Everybody knows that. People here back in the United States know it's about oil. It's because somebody else has a design for your resource. It's your resource. It's not somebody else's, right? It's your land. It's your resource. Somebody else has a design for it. And you know why they have a design? You know why they have their eyes set on it? Because they have an entire economic system that's dependent on that oil. Foreign oil. Oil from other parts of the world that they don't own. And what else do you think about these people? Well, the Americans, they're rich! Come on, they live in big houses, they have big cars, they have blonde hair, blue eyes. They're happy. You think that. It's not true, of course, but that's the media impression. That's like what you get? And they have big cities and the cities are all dependent on oil. And back home what do you see? Poverty, despair, struggle. Look, you don't live in a wealthy country. I mean this is Iraq. This is what you see -- you see people struggling to get by. I mean it's not easy. You see a lot of poverty and you feel something about this. These people have designs for your resource, and this is what you see? It doesn't feel good. But here, a couple other things? Something else you see that you talk about. Americans don't talk about this, but you do. There's this thing this militarization of the world, and it's centered right in the United States. And the United States is responsible for almost one half of the world's military spending. Four per cent of the world's population and you feel it, you see it every day. It's part of your life and you talk about it with your friends. You read about it. And back when Sadaam Hussein was in power? The Americans didn't care about his crimes. When he was gassing the Kurds and gassing Iran they didn't care about it. When oil was at stake, somehow suddenly things mattered. And what you see? Something else? The United States, the hub of democracy around the world? They don't seem to really be supporting democratic countries all around the world. There are a lot of countries, oil-producing countries, that aren't very democratic but supported by the United States. That's odd. Oh, these incursions. Here, let me help you. These incursions? These two years wars? The ten years of sanctions? The eight years of occupation? The insurgency that's been unleashed on your people? The tens of thousand, the hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths all because of oil. You can't help but think that. You talk about it. It's in the forefront of your mind always. You say, "How is that possible? Come on." And this man? He's every man. Your grandfather, your uncle your father, your son, your neighbor, your professor, your student -- wants a life of happiness and joy and suddenly pain and sorrow. Everyone in your country has been touched by the violence, the bloodshed, the pain, the horror. Everybody. Not a single person in your country has not been touched. So here, but there's something else. There's something else about these people, these Americans who are there. There's something else about them that you see. They don't see themselves. And what do you see? They're Christians. They're Christians. They worship the Christian God. They have crosses, they carry bibles. Their Bibles have a little insignia that says U.S. Army on them. And their leaders, their leaders, before they send their sons and daughters off to war in your country, and you know the reason, before they send them off, they go to a Christian church and they pray to their Christian God and they ask for protection and guidance from that god. Why? Well, obviously so that when people die in the war they are Muslims. They are Iraqis. They're not Americans. You don't want Americans to die. Protect our troops. And you feel something about that. Of course you do? And they do wonderful things, beautiful humanitarian things, but these humanitarians, I mean because these people, they're there you read about it, you hear about it, they're there to build schools and help people and that's what they want to do. They do wonderful things, but they also do the bad things and you can't tell the difference. And so you don't. And this guy, you got a guy like Lieutenant General William Boykin. I mean, here's a guy that says that your god is a false god. Your god is an idol. His god is the true god. The solution to the problem in the Middle East according to him is to convert you all to Christianity. Just get rid of your religion. And you know that. Americans don't read about this guy. They don't know anything about him, but you do. You pass it around, you pass his words around. I mean this is serious. You're afraid. He was one of the leading commanders in the second invasion of Iraq, and you're thinking "My god, if this guy is saying that, then all the soldiers must be saying that." Right? This word here. George Bush called this war a "crusade." Man, the Americans they're just like, "Crusade, whatever, I don't know what that means." But you know what it means. It's a Holy War against Muslims. Look, invade, subdue them, take their resources. If they won't submit, kill them. That's what this is about. And you're thinking "My god, these Christians are coming to kill us." This is frightening. You feel frightened. Of course you feel frightened? Of course you feel frightened. Why wouldn't you feel frightened. And this man, Terry Jones, I mean here's a guy wants to burn Korans, right? And the Americans, "Oh what, he's a knucklehead, he's a former hotel manager, he's got three dozen members of his church", they laugh him off. You don't laugh him off. Because in the context of everything else, all the pieces fit. I mean of course this is how the Americans think, and so people all over the Middle East, not just in your country are protesting. He wants to burn Korans, our holy book. These Christians, Who are these Christians? They're so evil, they're so mean. I mean this is what they're about? This is what you're thinking as an Arab Muslim, as an Iraqi. Of course you're going to think this. How can you not think this? And then your cousin says "Hey, cuz, check out this website. You gotta see this Christian, this Bible Boot Camp. These Christians are nuts. They're training their little kids to be soldiers for Jesus." And they take these little kids, and they run them through these things and they teach them how to say "Sir, yes, sir!", and play games like grenade toss, and weapons care and maintenance. And go to the website. It says U.S. Army right on it. I mean these Christians they're nuts! How would they do this to their little kids? And you're reading this website and of course Christians back in the United States or anybody says "Aw, this is a little tiny church in the middle of nowhere." You don't know that. For you, this is all Christians. It's all over the web -- Bible Boot Camp. And look at this. They even teach their kids. They train them in the same way the U.S. Marines train. Isn't that interesting? And it scares you and it frightens you. So these guys? You see them? You see I, Sam Richards, I know who these guys are. They're my students, my friends. I mean I know what they're thinking. You don't know. When you see them they're something else. They're something else. That's what they are to you. (Christian Invaders) We don't see it that way in the United States. But you see it that way? So here. Of course, you got it wrong. You're generalizing, it's wrong. You don't understand the Americans. It's not a Christian invasion. We're not just there for oil. We're there for lots of reasons. I mean, you have it wrong. You've missed it. And of course most of you don't support the insurgency, you don't support killing Americans, you don't support the terrorists. Of course you don't. Very few people do. But some of you do? And this is a perspective. Okay, so now, so here's what we're going to do. Step outside of your shoes that you're in right now and step back into your normal shoes, so everyone's back in the room, okay? Now here comes the radical experiment.