Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • ♪♪

  • ♪♪

  • ♪♪

  • ♪♪

  • ♪♪

  • ( 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.