Lesson No. 3. It is only in the vital expression of an awakened human spirit that we can ever learn to recognize what is most important: that is, that agony is more predictive than astronomy, that cries of despair are more urgent than the disembodied powers of technology, and that our solitary tears have far greater social significance than assorted Facebook ramblings.
"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.
- Read Peter Roff: Romney Video Distracts From Obama's Libya Crisis
- Read Robert Schlesinger: Romney's Foreign Policy Would Play Into the Terrorists' Hands
- Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.