Excellence Reporter: Ash, what is the meaning of life?
Ash Beckham: I think the meaning of life is authentic human connection. Our relationship with others is the one universal truth across cultures and time. We are biologically wired to be social creatures. But today we live in an ever more isolating world. Certainly technology has allowed us the capacity to connect with more people but how genuine are those connections?
We now have the ability to surround ourselves with people that look like us, act like us, pray like us, think like us. We consume media from people who affirm the opinions we already hold. The result is that we are devoid of authentic human connection. Challenging our own opinion is simply more arduous than being told we are right.
We have become consumed with instant psychological sorting – putting things in boxes, groups, pigeonholes – so we can better comprehend our world. Us vs. Them. Safe vs. Threat. Like vs Dislike.
The irony is that process actually restricts our ability to truly understand new things. While we are not responsible for our first thought – our primal instincts categorize immediately – we are responsible for our second thought and first action. Can our rational brain override our reptilian brain that sees different as Them to see different as still Us despite that difference?
To not be blind to our diversities, but rather see that our similarities far outweigh them. That split second, mindful decision to see that we are more alike than unalike is the first step to rebuilding authentic human connection.
~Ash Beckham is a bold, dynamic presenter who speaks about empathy, respect and the power of having real conversations. Online videos of her TEDx talks “Coming Out of Your Closet” and “Owning Your Duality” and her Boulder Ignite speech “I am SO GAY” have gone viral with more than 10 million YouTube views. Significantly, her message has also become a topic of global discussion. Ash reaches millions every day as her inspiring speeches are experienced in classrooms, boardrooms and auditoriums around the world.
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