The Big Issues In The 2012 Presidential Debates—Who Am I? Why Am I Here? What Is Reality?
The first debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will be held this evening.
Voters merit discussion of the most important issues.
Above is a short clip of Vice Admiral James Stockdale asking the most essential questions of “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?’ in the 1992 Vice Presidential debate.
Admiral Stockdale—A Vietnam War hero—was the running mate of Ross Perot in 1992.
People made fun of Admiral Stockdale, but I’m not sure what questions are more central to how we should conduct ourselves in life. Admiral Stockdale spent seven years in a Vietnamese prison. For much of that time Admiral Stockdale was in solitary confinement. I’m certain he had plenty of time to think in his years of confinement. It is no surprise that a reflective leader such as Admiral Stockdale asked the most relevant questions I’ve ever heard in a politcal debate.
The excellent New Scientist magazine has a series of articles in a recent edition that discuss the nature of reality. (You have to register with the website to read the articles.)
I think a discussion on the nature of reality would be a fine topic for the debate tonight.
In any case, after you hear the prepared answers to the predictable questions in the debate tonight—Be sure to recall that the work of freedom and creativity and of an open hopeful society is up to each of us.
Your conceptions of the work to be done will surely be informed by your ideas of who you are and what your purpose is in the world.
Everyday people are fully capable of figuring complex stuff for themselves. This is the case even though we so often seem to forget this fact in our often silly and mean-spirited society.
Don’t let prepared answers to predictable questions define what you are going to do with your life.
If we allow our lives to be defined by prepared answers to predictable questions, we will end up cheating ourselves out of our abilities and out of our own understanding of the world.