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TED Conference 2009: Inspiration and an Uplifting Spirit of Hope for Future Generations

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The value and impact of the annual TED Conference can't be fully realized until several days – even weeks – after the event. Now that millions of people are downloading and viewing TED Talks [http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks], the impact of each year's conference is increasingly in the long tail. This 25th anniversary year of TED was my fifteenth, and it had especially poignant relevance since in the middle of TED I made a 20-hour turn-around from Long Beach to New York and back to participate at my first grandson's bris, the ritual circumcision that is required to take place on the eighth day after birth.

TED and the birth of my grandchild have merged into a single holistic experience, with the extraordinary messages of TED speakers giving me hope for the future of little Leo Sam Tritt and his generation who are being born during this economic meltdown and most challenging period our world has seen possibly since the depression and World War 2, and definitely since the tumultuous 1960s and the Cold War.

TED speakers from Bill Gates and author Elizabeth Gilbert to The Art of Possibility co-author Rosamund Zander and Bennington College President Liz Coleman spent little time and paid little attention to the economic challenges we are all experiencing. Put in the context of TED the words of teenager Darius Weems, who was born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a fatal genetic disorder. Darius Goes West, a documentary film about Darius made with and by a group of his friends, has been viewed by millions on YouTube and DVD. Darius, who appeared on the TED stage, refuses to be considered handicapped or to be perceived as suffering. Rather than dwelling on his looming and inevitable death, he thrives by experiencing the full potential of his every day. TED speaker Lena Maria Klingvall, was born with no arms and one leg, but she resonates with a positive spirit of accomplishment and hopeful energy. And TED University speaker Aimee Mullins, a multi-talented athlete, wears prosthetic legs and not only overcomes her handicap but uses it to her advantage, exuding optimism, beauty and hope.

Yes we are in the midst of a serious global recession – perhaps a depression. All of us are being impacted. We can immerse ourselves in the depressing truths of our condition. Or we can focus on the future and our potential. We can be angry at the politicians and Wall Street greed-mongers. Or we can celebrate those many leaders in so many fields who are contributing to the betterment of society and the earth.

These are the core messages and the realized take-away from TED. We can dare to hope for a better future. Listening to TED speakers and interacting with an extraordinary group of TED colleagues inspires greater hope and confidence that the generations being born in the 21st Century will manage the resources of nature and mankind far better than those born in the 20th Century. This period of great transformation, we can dare to believe, should empower us… not handicap us.

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This post originally appeared at JackMyers.com.