"The man who laughs," warned the poet Bertolt Brecht, "has simply not yet heard the horrible news."
The enduring barbarisms of life on earth can never be undone by improving global economies, building larger missiles, fashioning new international treaties, spreading democracy, or even by supporting periodic "democratic" revolutions. Inevitably, we intertwined humans still lack a tolerable future not because we have been too slow to learn, but because we have failed to learn what is important.
To improve our survival odds, to better avoid our recurring global misfortunes, we must finally learn to look behind the news. In so doing, we could productively acknowledge that the vital root explanations for war, riots, revolution, despotism, terrorism, and genocide are not primarily discoverable in readily recognizable political institutions or ideologies. Instead, we would be instructed, these explanations lie more or less hidden, dormant but still latent, in the ineradicably timeless needs of individuals.
For both President Obama and former Governor Romney, this is a trio of survival lessons genuinely worth learning.