Sebastian Junger: Our lonely society makes it hard to come home from war

Sebastian Junger has seen war up close, and he knows the impact that battlefield trauma has on soldiers. But he suggests there’s another major cause of pain for veterans when they come home: the experience of leaving the tribal closeness of the military and returning to an alienating and bitterly divided modern society. “Sometimes, we ask ourselves if we can save the vets,” Junger says. “I think the real question is if we can save ourselves.”

Elizabeth Lesser: Say your truths and seek them in others

In a lyrical, unexpectedly funny talk about heavy topics such as frayed relationships and the death of a loved one, Elizabeth Lesser describes the healing process of putting aside pride and defensiveness to make way for soul-baring and truth-telling. “You don’t have to wait for a life-or-death situation to clean up the relationships that matter to you,” she says. “Be like a new kind of first responder … the one to take the first courageous step toward the other.”

Laura Boushnak: For these women reading is a daring act

In some parts of the world, half of the women lack basic reading and writing skills. The reasons vary, but in many cases, literacy isn’t valued by fathers, husbands, even mothers. Photographer and TED Fellow Laura Boushnak traveled to countries including Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia to highlight brave women — schoolgirls, political activists, 60-year-old moms — who are fighting the statistics.

Sandi Toksvig: A political party for women’s equality

Women’s equality won’t just happen — not unless more women are put in positions of power, says Sandi Toksvig. In a disarmingly hilarious talk, Toksvig tells the story of how she helped start a new political party in Britain, the Women’s Equality Party, with the express purpose of putting equality on the ballot. Now she hopes people around the world will copy her party’s model and mobilize for equality.