full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Margaret Heffernan: The dangers of willful blindness

Unscramble the Blue Letters

In the nswrhoett corner of the United States, right up near the Canadian border, there's a little town called lbiby, Montana, and it's surrounded by pine teres and lakes and just aimnazg wildlife and these enormous trees that scream up into the sky. And in there is a little town called Libby, which I visited, which feels kind of lonely, a little isolated. And in Libby, Montana, there's a rather unsuaul woman named Gayla Benefield. She always felt a little bit of an oesidtur, although she's been there almost all her life, a woman of Russian extiocartn. She told me when she went to school, she was the only girl who ever chose to do mechanical drawing. Later in life, she got a job going house to house reading uilitty mtrees — gas meters, electricity meters. And she was doing the work in the middle of the day, and one thing particularly caught her notice, which was, in the middle of the day she met a lot of men who were at home, middle aged, late middle aged, and a lot of them seemed to be on oxygen tanks. It struck her as strange. Then, a few years later, her father died at the age of 59, five days before he was due to receive his pension. He'd been a miner. She thought he must just have been worn out by the work. But then a few years later, her mother died, and that seemed stranger still, because her mother came from a long line of people who just seemed to live forever. In fact, Gayla's uncle is still alive to this day, and learning how to waltz. It didn't make sense that Gayla's mother should die so young. It was an anomaly, and she kept pinzuzlg over anomalies. And as she did, other ones came to mind. She remembered, for example, when her mother had broken a leg and went into the hospital, and she had a lot of x-rays, and two of them were leg x-rays, which made sense, but six of them were cseht x-rays, which didn't. She pzulezd and puzzled over every peice of her life and her parents' life, trying to uaesdrtnnd what she was seeing. She thought about her town. The town had a vermiculite mine in it. Vermiculite was used for soil coritidnones, to make plants grow ftsear and better. Vermiculite was used to insulate lofts, huge atnomus of it put under the roof to keep houses warm during the long moannta winters. Vermiculite was in the playground. It was in the football ground. It was in the skating rink. What she didn't lraen until she started working this problem is viturlcmeie is a very toxic form of abstsoes. When she figured out the puzzle, she started telling everyone she could what had happened, what had been done to her parents and to the people that she saw on oxygen tanks at home in the afternoons. But she was really amazed. She thought, when everybody knows, they'll want to do something, but actually nobody wanted to know. In fact, she became so annoying as she kept insisting on telling this story to her neighbors, to her friends, to other people in the community, that eventually a bunch of them got together and they made a bumper sticker, which they proudly dlypaised on their cars, which said, "Yes, I'm from Libby, Montana, and no, I don't have asbestosis." But Gayla didn't stop. She kept doing research. The advent of the Internet definitely helped her. She talked to anybody she could. She aeugrd and argued, and finally she struck lucky when a researcher came through town studying the hrsoity of mines in the area, and she told him her story, and at first, of course, like everyone, he didn't believe her, but he went back to setltae and he did his own research and he rlaeiezd that she was right. So now she had an ally. Nevertheless, people still didn't want to know. They said things like, "Well, if it were really dangerous, someone would have told us." "If that's really why everyone was dying, the doctors would have told us." Some of the guys used to very heavy jobs said, "I don't want to be a vticim. I can't psbsloiy be a victim, and anyway, every industry has its accidents." But still Gayla went on, and finally she seceeudcd in getting a federal agecny to come to town and to screen the inhabitants of the town — 15,000 people — and what they discovered was that the town had a mortality rate 80 times higher than anywhere in the United States. That was in 2002, and even at that moment, no one raised their hand to say, "Gayla, look in the playground where your glddnecirrahn are plyinag. It's lined with vermiculite." This wasn't ignorance. It was willful blindness. Willful blindness is a legal concept which means, if there's information that you could know and you should know but you somehow manage not to know, the law deems that you're willfully blind. You have chosen not to know. There's a lot of willful blindness around these days. You can see willful blindness in bakns, when thousands of people sold mareggtos to people who couldn't afford them. You could see them in banks when interest rteas were manipulated and everyone around knew what was going on, but everyone sduiuostly ignored it. You can see willful blindness in the Catholic cuhrch, where decades of child abuse went ignored. You could see willful bdisennls in the run-up to the Iraq War. Willful blindness exists on epic scales like those, and it also exists on very small scales, in people's families, in people's homes and ceiotmunims, and particularly in organizations and institutions. cmaoenips that have been siuetdd for willful blindness can be asked questions like, "Are there issues at work that people are afraid to raise?" And when academics have done studies like this of corporations in the ueintd setats, what they find is 85 pcneert of people say yes. Eighty-five percent of people know there's a problem, but they won't say anything. And when I dliepcatud the rreecsah in Europe, asking all the same questions, I found exactly the same nebmur. Eighty-five percent. That's a lot of silence. It's a lot of blindness. And what's really interesting is that when I go to companies in Switzerland, they tell me, "This is a ueqiulny Swiss problem." And when I go to Germany, they say, "Oh yes, this is the German disease." And when I go to companies in ealngnd, they say, "Oh, yeah, the British are really bad at this." And the truth is, this is a human plbeorm. We're all, under certain crntsamuecics, wlllulify blind. What the research sowhs is that some people are blind out of fear. They're afraid of rtoliaitean. And some people are blind because they think, well, seeing anything is just futile. Nothing's ever going to change. If we make a protest, if we portest against the Iraq War, nothing changes, so why bother? Better not to see this sfutf at all. And the rucernret theme that I encounter all the time is people say, "Well, you know, the people who do see, they're whistleblowers, and we all know what happens to them." So there's this profound mythology around whistleblowers which says, first of all, they're all crazy. But what I've found going around the world and talking to whistleblowers is, actually, they're very laoyl and quite often very ceovsivarnte people. They're hugely deticdaed to the institutions that they work for, and the reason that they speak up, the roeasn they insist on seeing, is because they care so much about the institution and want to keep it hhatley. And the other thing that people often say about whistleblowers is, "Well, there's no point, because you see what happens to them. They are crushed. Nobody would want to go through something like that." And yet, when I talk to whistleblowers, the recurrent tone that I hear is pride. I think of Joe draby. We all remember the photographs of Abu Ghraib, which so shocked the world and showed the kind of war that was being fought in Iraq. But I wonder who remembers Joe Darby, the very obedient, good soldier who found those pthrhaopgos and hedand them in. And he said, "You know, I'm not the kind of guy to rat people out, but some things just cross the line. Ignorance is bliss, they say, but you can't put up with things like this." I tekald to Steve bslion, a British doctor, who fought for five years to draw attention to a dangerous surgeon who was kiillng babies. And I asked him why he did it, and he said, "Well, it was really my daughter who prompted me to do it. She came up to me one night, and she just said, 'Dad, you can't let the kids die.'" Or I think of Cynthia Thomas, a really loyal army daughter and army wife, who, as she saw her friends and relations coming back from the Iraq War, was so shocked by their mental ctdooniin and the refusal of the military to recognize and acknowledge post-traumatic stress syndrome that she set up a cafe in the middle of a military town to give them lgeal, psychological and medical aiantcssse. And she said to me, she said, "You know, Margaret, I always used to say I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grow up. But I've found myself in this cause, and I'll never be the same." We all enjoy so many freedoms today, hard-won freedoms: the freedom to write and publish without fear of censorship, a freedom that wasn't here the last time I came to Hungary; a freedom to vote, which women in particular had to fihgt so hard for; the freedom for people of different ethnicities and culuerts and sxeaul otrtioaeinn to live the way that they want. But freedom doesn't exist if you don't use it, and what wewerolhbiltss do, and what popele like Gayla Benefield do is they use the foreedm that they have. And what they're very prepared to do is rzoigncee that yes, this is going to be an argument, and yes I'm going to have a lot of rows with my nbirhgoes and my colleagues and my friends, but I'm going to become very good at this conflict. I'm going to take on the naysayers, because they'll make my argument better and stronger. I can collaborate with my opponents to become better at what I do. These are people of immense pcitessenre, incredible patience, and an absolute determination not to be blind and not to be silent. When I went to Libby, Montana, I visited the asbestosis clinic that Gayla Benefield brought into being, a place where at first some of the people who wanted help and needed medical attention went in the back door because they didn't want to acknowledge that she'd been right. I sat in a diner, and I watched as trucks drove up and down the highway, carting away the earth out of gardens and repinlcag it with fresh, unetnociatmand soil. I took my 12-year-old daughter with me, because I really wanted her to meet Gayla. And she said, "Why? What's the big deal?" I said, "She's not a mvioe star, and she's not a celebrity, and she's not an expert, and Gayla's the first person who'd say she's not a saint. The really important thing about galya is she is ordinary. She's like you, and she's like me. She had freedom, and she was ready to use it." Thank you very much. (Applause)

Open Cloze

In the _________ corner of the United States, right up near the Canadian border, there's a little town called _____, Montana, and it's surrounded by pine _____ and lakes and just _______ wildlife and these enormous trees that scream up into the sky. And in there is a little town called Libby, which I visited, which feels kind of lonely, a little isolated. And in Libby, Montana, there's a rather _______ woman named Gayla Benefield. She always felt a little bit of an ________, although she's been there almost all her life, a woman of Russian __________. She told me when she went to school, she was the only girl who ever chose to do mechanical drawing. Later in life, she got a job going house to house reading _______ ______ — gas meters, electricity meters. And she was doing the work in the middle of the day, and one thing particularly caught her notice, which was, in the middle of the day she met a lot of men who were at home, middle aged, late middle aged, and a lot of them seemed to be on oxygen tanks. It struck her as strange. Then, a few years later, her father died at the age of 59, five days before he was due to receive his pension. He'd been a miner. She thought he must just have been worn out by the work. But then a few years later, her mother died, and that seemed stranger still, because her mother came from a long line of people who just seemed to live forever. In fact, Gayla's uncle is still alive to this day, and learning how to waltz. It didn't make sense that Gayla's mother should die so young. It was an anomaly, and she kept ________ over anomalies. And as she did, other ones came to mind. She remembered, for example, when her mother had broken a leg and went into the hospital, and she had a lot of x-rays, and two of them were leg x-rays, which made sense, but six of them were _____ x-rays, which didn't. She _______ and puzzled over every _____ of her life and her parents' life, trying to __________ what she was seeing. She thought about her town. The town had a vermiculite mine in it. Vermiculite was used for soil ____________, to make plants grow ______ and better. Vermiculite was used to insulate lofts, huge _______ of it put under the roof to keep houses warm during the long _______ winters. Vermiculite was in the playground. It was in the football ground. It was in the skating rink. What she didn't _____ until she started working this problem is ___________ is a very toxic form of ________. When she figured out the puzzle, she started telling everyone she could what had happened, what had been done to her parents and to the people that she saw on oxygen tanks at home in the afternoons. But she was really amazed. She thought, when everybody knows, they'll want to do something, but actually nobody wanted to know. In fact, she became so annoying as she kept insisting on telling this story to her neighbors, to her friends, to other people in the community, that eventually a bunch of them got together and they made a bumper sticker, which they proudly _________ on their cars, which said, "Yes, I'm from Libby, Montana, and no, I don't have asbestosis." But Gayla didn't stop. She kept doing research. The advent of the Internet definitely helped her. She talked to anybody she could. She ______ and argued, and finally she struck lucky when a researcher came through town studying the _______ of mines in the area, and she told him her story, and at first, of course, like everyone, he didn't believe her, but he went back to _______ and he did his own research and he ________ that she was right. So now she had an ally. Nevertheless, people still didn't want to know. They said things like, "Well, if it were really dangerous, someone would have told us." "If that's really why everyone was dying, the doctors would have told us." Some of the guys used to very heavy jobs said, "I don't want to be a ______. I can't ________ be a victim, and anyway, every industry has its accidents." But still Gayla went on, and finally she _________ in getting a federal ______ to come to town and to screen the inhabitants of the town — 15,000 people — and what they discovered was that the town had a mortality rate 80 times higher than anywhere in the United States. That was in 2002, and even at that moment, no one raised their hand to say, "Gayla, look in the playground where your _____________ are _______. It's lined with vermiculite." This wasn't ignorance. It was willful blindness. Willful blindness is a legal concept which means, if there's information that you could know and you should know but you somehow manage not to know, the law deems that you're willfully blind. You have chosen not to know. There's a lot of willful blindness around these days. You can see willful blindness in _____, when thousands of people sold _________ to people who couldn't afford them. You could see them in banks when interest _____ were manipulated and everyone around knew what was going on, but everyone __________ ignored it. You can see willful blindness in the Catholic ______, where decades of child abuse went ignored. You could see willful _________ in the run-up to the Iraq War. Willful blindness exists on epic scales like those, and it also exists on very small scales, in people's families, in people's homes and ___________, and particularly in organizations and institutions. _________ that have been _______ for willful blindness can be asked questions like, "Are there issues at work that people are afraid to raise?" And when academics have done studies like this of corporations in the ______ ______, what they find is 85 _______ of people say yes. Eighty-five percent of people know there's a problem, but they won't say anything. And when I __________ the ________ in Europe, asking all the same questions, I found exactly the same ______. Eighty-five percent. That's a lot of silence. It's a lot of blindness. And what's really interesting is that when I go to companies in Switzerland, they tell me, "This is a ________ Swiss problem." And when I go to Germany, they say, "Oh yes, this is the German disease." And when I go to companies in _______, they say, "Oh, yeah, the British are really bad at this." And the truth is, this is a human _______. We're all, under certain _____________, _________ blind. What the research _____ is that some people are blind out of fear. They're afraid of ___________. And some people are blind because they think, well, seeing anything is just futile. Nothing's ever going to change. If we make a protest, if we _______ against the Iraq War, nothing changes, so why bother? Better not to see this _____ at all. And the _________ theme that I encounter all the time is people say, "Well, you know, the people who do see, they're whistleblowers, and we all know what happens to them." So there's this profound mythology around whistleblowers which says, first of all, they're all crazy. But what I've found going around the world and talking to whistleblowers is, actually, they're very _____ and quite often very ____________ people. They're hugely _________ to the institutions that they work for, and the reason that they speak up, the ______ they insist on seeing, is because they care so much about the institution and want to keep it _______. And the other thing that people often say about whistleblowers is, "Well, there's no point, because you see what happens to them. They are crushed. Nobody would want to go through something like that." And yet, when I talk to whistleblowers, the recurrent tone that I hear is pride. I think of Joe _____. We all remember the photographs of Abu Ghraib, which so shocked the world and showed the kind of war that was being fought in Iraq. But I wonder who remembers Joe Darby, the very obedient, good soldier who found those ___________ and ______ them in. And he said, "You know, I'm not the kind of guy to rat people out, but some things just cross the line. Ignorance is bliss, they say, but you can't put up with things like this." I ______ to Steve ______, a British doctor, who fought for five years to draw attention to a dangerous surgeon who was _______ babies. And I asked him why he did it, and he said, "Well, it was really my daughter who prompted me to do it. She came up to me one night, and she just said, 'Dad, you can't let the kids die.'" Or I think of Cynthia Thomas, a really loyal army daughter and army wife, who, as she saw her friends and relations coming back from the Iraq War, was so shocked by their mental _________ and the refusal of the military to recognize and acknowledge post-traumatic stress syndrome that she set up a cafe in the middle of a military town to give them _____, psychological and medical __________. And she said to me, she said, "You know, Margaret, I always used to say I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grow up. But I've found myself in this cause, and I'll never be the same." We all enjoy so many freedoms today, hard-won freedoms: the freedom to write and publish without fear of censorship, a freedom that wasn't here the last time I came to Hungary; a freedom to vote, which women in particular had to _____ so hard for; the freedom for people of different ethnicities and ________ and ______ ___________ to live the way that they want. But freedom doesn't exist if you don't use it, and what ______________ do, and what ______ like Gayla Benefield do is they use the _______ that they have. And what they're very prepared to do is _________ that yes, this is going to be an argument, and yes I'm going to have a lot of rows with my _________ and my colleagues and my friends, but I'm going to become very good at this conflict. I'm going to take on the naysayers, because they'll make my argument better and stronger. I can collaborate with my opponents to become better at what I do. These are people of immense ___________, incredible patience, and an absolute determination not to be blind and not to be silent. When I went to Libby, Montana, I visited the asbestosis clinic that Gayla Benefield brought into being, a place where at first some of the people who wanted help and needed medical attention went in the back door because they didn't want to acknowledge that she'd been right. I sat in a diner, and I watched as trucks drove up and down the highway, carting away the earth out of gardens and _________ it with fresh, ______________ soil. I took my 12-year-old daughter with me, because I really wanted her to meet Gayla. And she said, "Why? What's the big deal?" I said, "She's not a _____ star, and she's not a celebrity, and she's not an expert, and Gayla's the first person who'd say she's not a saint. The really important thing about _____ is she is ordinary. She's like you, and she's like me. She had freedom, and she was ready to use it." Thank you very much. (Applause)

Solution

  1. companies
  2. talked
  3. understand
  4. stuff
  5. communities
  6. rates
  7. condition
  8. recognize
  9. people
  10. uniquely
  11. chest
  12. amounts
  13. handed
  14. photographs
  15. succeeded
  16. utility
  17. orientation
  18. bolsin
  19. history
  20. studied
  21. outsider
  22. percent
  23. sexual
  24. healthy
  25. whistleblowers
  26. meters
  27. libby
  28. legal
  29. asbestos
  30. freedom
  31. amazing
  32. possibly
  33. darby
  34. shows
  35. research
  36. loyal
  37. seattle
  38. fight
  39. mortgages
  40. cultures
  41. argued
  42. conditioners
  43. conservative
  44. realized
  45. movie
  46. extraction
  47. killing
  48. northwest
  49. willfully
  50. church
  51. victim
  52. learn
  53. uncontaminated
  54. montana
  55. duplicated
  56. unusual
  57. playing
  58. displayed
  59. blindness
  60. retaliation
  61. agency
  62. states
  63. gayla
  64. faster
  65. piece
  66. puzzling
  67. united
  68. protest
  69. puzzled
  70. dedicated
  71. studiously
  72. recurrent
  73. number
  74. circumstances
  75. assistance
  76. banks
  77. grandchildren
  78. persistence
  79. reason
  80. neighbors
  81. vermiculite
  82. england
  83. trees
  84. problem
  85. replacing

Original Text

In the northwest corner of the United States, right up near the Canadian border, there's a little town called Libby, Montana, and it's surrounded by pine trees and lakes and just amazing wildlife and these enormous trees that scream up into the sky. And in there is a little town called Libby, which I visited, which feels kind of lonely, a little isolated. And in Libby, Montana, there's a rather unusual woman named Gayla Benefield. She always felt a little bit of an outsider, although she's been there almost all her life, a woman of Russian extraction. She told me when she went to school, she was the only girl who ever chose to do mechanical drawing. Later in life, she got a job going house to house reading utility meters — gas meters, electricity meters. And she was doing the work in the middle of the day, and one thing particularly caught her notice, which was, in the middle of the day she met a lot of men who were at home, middle aged, late middle aged, and a lot of them seemed to be on oxygen tanks. It struck her as strange. Then, a few years later, her father died at the age of 59, five days before he was due to receive his pension. He'd been a miner. She thought he must just have been worn out by the work. But then a few years later, her mother died, and that seemed stranger still, because her mother came from a long line of people who just seemed to live forever. In fact, Gayla's uncle is still alive to this day, and learning how to waltz. It didn't make sense that Gayla's mother should die so young. It was an anomaly, and she kept puzzling over anomalies. And as she did, other ones came to mind. She remembered, for example, when her mother had broken a leg and went into the hospital, and she had a lot of x-rays, and two of them were leg x-rays, which made sense, but six of them were chest x-rays, which didn't. She puzzled and puzzled over every piece of her life and her parents' life, trying to understand what she was seeing. She thought about her town. The town had a vermiculite mine in it. Vermiculite was used for soil conditioners, to make plants grow faster and better. Vermiculite was used to insulate lofts, huge amounts of it put under the roof to keep houses warm during the long Montana winters. Vermiculite was in the playground. It was in the football ground. It was in the skating rink. What she didn't learn until she started working this problem is vermiculite is a very toxic form of asbestos. When she figured out the puzzle, she started telling everyone she could what had happened, what had been done to her parents and to the people that she saw on oxygen tanks at home in the afternoons. But she was really amazed. She thought, when everybody knows, they'll want to do something, but actually nobody wanted to know. In fact, she became so annoying as she kept insisting on telling this story to her neighbors, to her friends, to other people in the community, that eventually a bunch of them got together and they made a bumper sticker, which they proudly displayed on their cars, which said, "Yes, I'm from Libby, Montana, and no, I don't have asbestosis." But Gayla didn't stop. She kept doing research. The advent of the Internet definitely helped her. She talked to anybody she could. She argued and argued, and finally she struck lucky when a researcher came through town studying the history of mines in the area, and she told him her story, and at first, of course, like everyone, he didn't believe her, but he went back to Seattle and he did his own research and he realized that she was right. So now she had an ally. Nevertheless, people still didn't want to know. They said things like, "Well, if it were really dangerous, someone would have told us." "If that's really why everyone was dying, the doctors would have told us." Some of the guys used to very heavy jobs said, "I don't want to be a victim. I can't possibly be a victim, and anyway, every industry has its accidents." But still Gayla went on, and finally she succeeded in getting a federal agency to come to town and to screen the inhabitants of the town — 15,000 people — and what they discovered was that the town had a mortality rate 80 times higher than anywhere in the United States. That was in 2002, and even at that moment, no one raised their hand to say, "Gayla, look in the playground where your grandchildren are playing. It's lined with vermiculite." This wasn't ignorance. It was willful blindness. Willful blindness is a legal concept which means, if there's information that you could know and you should know but you somehow manage not to know, the law deems that you're willfully blind. You have chosen not to know. There's a lot of willful blindness around these days. You can see willful blindness in banks, when thousands of people sold mortgages to people who couldn't afford them. You could see them in banks when interest rates were manipulated and everyone around knew what was going on, but everyone studiously ignored it. You can see willful blindness in the Catholic Church, where decades of child abuse went ignored. You could see willful blindness in the run-up to the Iraq War. Willful blindness exists on epic scales like those, and it also exists on very small scales, in people's families, in people's homes and communities, and particularly in organizations and institutions. Companies that have been studied for willful blindness can be asked questions like, "Are there issues at work that people are afraid to raise?" And when academics have done studies like this of corporations in the United States, what they find is 85 percent of people say yes. Eighty-five percent of people know there's a problem, but they won't say anything. And when I duplicated the research in Europe, asking all the same questions, I found exactly the same number. Eighty-five percent. That's a lot of silence. It's a lot of blindness. And what's really interesting is that when I go to companies in Switzerland, they tell me, "This is a uniquely Swiss problem." And when I go to Germany, they say, "Oh yes, this is the German disease." And when I go to companies in England, they say, "Oh, yeah, the British are really bad at this." And the truth is, this is a human problem. We're all, under certain circumstances, willfully blind. What the research shows is that some people are blind out of fear. They're afraid of retaliation. And some people are blind because they think, well, seeing anything is just futile. Nothing's ever going to change. If we make a protest, if we protest against the Iraq War, nothing changes, so why bother? Better not to see this stuff at all. And the recurrent theme that I encounter all the time is people say, "Well, you know, the people who do see, they're whistleblowers, and we all know what happens to them." So there's this profound mythology around whistleblowers which says, first of all, they're all crazy. But what I've found going around the world and talking to whistleblowers is, actually, they're very loyal and quite often very conservative people. They're hugely dedicated to the institutions that they work for, and the reason that they speak up, the reason they insist on seeing, is because they care so much about the institution and want to keep it healthy. And the other thing that people often say about whistleblowers is, "Well, there's no point, because you see what happens to them. They are crushed. Nobody would want to go through something like that." And yet, when I talk to whistleblowers, the recurrent tone that I hear is pride. I think of Joe Darby. We all remember the photographs of Abu Ghraib, which so shocked the world and showed the kind of war that was being fought in Iraq. But I wonder who remembers Joe Darby, the very obedient, good soldier who found those photographs and handed them in. And he said, "You know, I'm not the kind of guy to rat people out, but some things just cross the line. Ignorance is bliss, they say, but you can't put up with things like this." I talked to Steve Bolsin, a British doctor, who fought for five years to draw attention to a dangerous surgeon who was killing babies. And I asked him why he did it, and he said, "Well, it was really my daughter who prompted me to do it. She came up to me one night, and she just said, 'Dad, you can't let the kids die.'" Or I think of Cynthia Thomas, a really loyal army daughter and army wife, who, as she saw her friends and relations coming back from the Iraq War, was so shocked by their mental condition and the refusal of the military to recognize and acknowledge post-traumatic stress syndrome that she set up a cafe in the middle of a military town to give them legal, psychological and medical assistance. And she said to me, she said, "You know, Margaret, I always used to say I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grow up. But I've found myself in this cause, and I'll never be the same." We all enjoy so many freedoms today, hard-won freedoms: the freedom to write and publish without fear of censorship, a freedom that wasn't here the last time I came to Hungary; a freedom to vote, which women in particular had to fight so hard for; the freedom for people of different ethnicities and cultures and sexual orientation to live the way that they want. But freedom doesn't exist if you don't use it, and what whistleblowers do, and what people like Gayla Benefield do is they use the freedom that they have. And what they're very prepared to do is recognize that yes, this is going to be an argument, and yes I'm going to have a lot of rows with my neighbors and my colleagues and my friends, but I'm going to become very good at this conflict. I'm going to take on the naysayers, because they'll make my argument better and stronger. I can collaborate with my opponents to become better at what I do. These are people of immense persistence, incredible patience, and an absolute determination not to be blind and not to be silent. When I went to Libby, Montana, I visited the asbestosis clinic that Gayla Benefield brought into being, a place where at first some of the people who wanted help and needed medical attention went in the back door because they didn't want to acknowledge that she'd been right. I sat in a diner, and I watched as trucks drove up and down the highway, carting away the earth out of gardens and replacing it with fresh, uncontaminated soil. I took my 12-year-old daughter with me, because I really wanted her to meet Gayla. And she said, "Why? What's the big deal?" I said, "She's not a movie star, and she's not a celebrity, and she's not an expert, and Gayla's the first person who'd say she's not a saint. The really important thing about Gayla is she is ordinary. She's like you, and she's like me. She had freedom, and she was ready to use it." Thank you very much. (Applause)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
willful blindness 8
gayla benefield 3
town called 2
oxygen tanks 2
willfully blind 2

Important Words

  1. absolute
  2. abu
  3. abuse
  4. academics
  5. accidents
  6. acknowledge
  7. advent
  8. afford
  9. afraid
  10. afternoons
  11. age
  12. aged
  13. agency
  14. alive
  15. ally
  16. amazed
  17. amazing
  18. amounts
  19. annoying
  20. anomalies
  21. anomaly
  22. applause
  23. area
  24. argued
  25. argument
  26. army
  27. asbestos
  28. asbestosis
  29. asked
  30. assistance
  31. attention
  32. babies
  33. bad
  34. banks
  35. benefield
  36. big
  37. bit
  38. blind
  39. blindness
  40. bliss
  41. bolsin
  42. border
  43. bother
  44. british
  45. broken
  46. brought
  47. bumper
  48. bunch
  49. cafe
  50. called
  51. canadian
  52. care
  53. cars
  54. carting
  55. catholic
  56. caught
  57. celebrity
  58. censorship
  59. change
  60. chest
  61. child
  62. chose
  63. chosen
  64. church
  65. circumstances
  66. clinic
  67. collaborate
  68. colleagues
  69. coming
  70. communities
  71. community
  72. companies
  73. concept
  74. condition
  75. conditioners
  76. conflict
  77. conservative
  78. corner
  79. corporations
  80. crazy
  81. cross
  82. crushed
  83. cultures
  84. cynthia
  85. dangerous
  86. darby
  87. daughter
  88. day
  89. days
  90. deal
  91. decades
  92. dedicated
  93. deems
  94. determination
  95. die
  96. died
  97. diner
  98. discovered
  99. disease
  100. displayed
  101. doctor
  102. doctors
  103. door
  104. draw
  105. drawing
  106. drove
  107. due
  108. duplicated
  109. dying
  110. earth
  111. electricity
  112. encounter
  113. england
  114. enjoy
  115. enormous
  116. epic
  117. ethnicities
  118. europe
  119. eventually
  120. exist
  121. exists
  122. expert
  123. extraction
  124. fact
  125. families
  126. faster
  127. father
  128. fear
  129. federal
  130. feels
  131. felt
  132. fight
  133. figured
  134. finally
  135. find
  136. football
  137. form
  138. fought
  139. freedom
  140. freedoms
  141. fresh
  142. friends
  143. futile
  144. gardens
  145. gas
  146. gayla
  147. german
  148. germany
  149. ghraib
  150. girl
  151. give
  152. good
  153. grandchildren
  154. ground
  155. grow
  156. guy
  157. guys
  158. hand
  159. handed
  160. happened
  161. hard
  162. healthy
  163. hear
  164. heavy
  165. helped
  166. higher
  167. highway
  168. history
  169. home
  170. homes
  171. hospital
  172. house
  173. houses
  174. huge
  175. hugely
  176. human
  177. ignorance
  178. immense
  179. important
  180. incredible
  181. industry
  182. information
  183. inhabitants
  184. insist
  185. insisting
  186. institution
  187. institutions
  188. insulate
  189. interest
  190. interesting
  191. internet
  192. iraq
  193. isolated
  194. issues
  195. job
  196. jobs
  197. joe
  198. kids
  199. killing
  200. kind
  201. knew
  202. lakes
  203. late
  204. law
  205. learn
  206. learning
  207. leg
  208. legal
  209. libby
  210. life
  211. line
  212. lined
  213. live
  214. lofts
  215. lonely
  216. long
  217. lot
  218. loyal
  219. lucky
  220. manage
  221. manipulated
  222. margaret
  223. means
  224. mechanical
  225. medical
  226. meet
  227. men
  228. mental
  229. met
  230. meters
  231. middle
  232. military
  233. mind
  234. miner
  235. mines
  236. moment
  237. montana
  238. mortality
  239. mortgages
  240. mother
  241. movie
  242. mythology
  243. named
  244. naysayers
  245. needed
  246. neighbors
  247. night
  248. northwest
  249. notice
  250. number
  251. obedient
  252. opponents
  253. ordinary
  254. organizations
  255. orientation
  256. outsider
  257. oxygen
  258. parents
  259. patience
  260. pension
  261. people
  262. percent
  263. persistence
  264. person
  265. photographs
  266. piece
  267. pine
  268. place
  269. plants
  270. playground
  271. playing
  272. point
  273. possibly
  274. prepared
  275. pride
  276. problem
  277. profound
  278. prompted
  279. protest
  280. proudly
  281. psychological
  282. publish
  283. put
  284. puzzle
  285. puzzled
  286. puzzling
  287. questions
  288. raise
  289. raised
  290. rat
  291. rate
  292. rates
  293. reading
  294. ready
  295. realized
  296. reason
  297. receive
  298. recognize
  299. recurrent
  300. refusal
  301. relations
  302. remember
  303. remembered
  304. remembers
  305. replacing
  306. research
  307. researcher
  308. retaliation
  309. rink
  310. roof
  311. rows
  312. russian
  313. saint
  314. sat
  315. scales
  316. school
  317. scream
  318. screen
  319. seattle
  320. sense
  321. set
  322. sexual
  323. shocked
  324. showed
  325. shows
  326. silence
  327. silent
  328. skating
  329. sky
  330. small
  331. soil
  332. sold
  333. soldier
  334. speak
  335. star
  336. started
  337. states
  338. steve
  339. sticker
  340. stop
  341. story
  342. strange
  343. stranger
  344. stress
  345. stronger
  346. struck
  347. studied
  348. studies
  349. studiously
  350. studying
  351. stuff
  352. succeeded
  353. surgeon
  354. surrounded
  355. swiss
  356. switzerland
  357. syndrome
  358. talk
  359. talked
  360. talking
  361. tanks
  362. telling
  363. theme
  364. thomas
  365. thought
  366. thousands
  367. time
  368. times
  369. today
  370. told
  371. tone
  372. town
  373. toxic
  374. trees
  375. trucks
  376. truth
  377. uncle
  378. uncontaminated
  379. understand
  380. uniquely
  381. united
  382. unusual
  383. utility
  384. vermiculite
  385. victim
  386. visited
  387. vote
  388. waltz
  389. wanted
  390. war
  391. warm
  392. watched
  393. whistleblowers
  394. wife
  395. wildlife
  396. willful
  397. willfully
  398. winters
  399. woman
  400. women
  401. work
  402. working
  403. world
  404. worn
  405. write
  406. yeah
  407. years
  408. young