Uncut: Laughter sometimes makes us miss important lessons



Bio | Email | Follow: @johnmccaa


Posted on December 28, 2012 at 9:47 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 28 at 9:53 PM

Laughter is a good thing... but sometimes it distracts us from a valuable lesson.

It's this week's Uncut commentary.

“Who am I? Why am I here?” That's what retired Admiral James Stockdale, a former prisoner of war and Medal of Honor recipient, said during the 1992 Vice Presidential Debate. He was Ross Perot's running mate.

I never liked the fact that people laughed at him when he made that comment. I get that he was a political novice, that his delivery left the line open to misinterpretation, but the words made perfect sense to me.

I am Jesuit educated. Among the first ideas we were asked to contemplate as students were "Who am I?" and "Why am I here?"

During seven-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam - often tortured - the Admiral had ample time to do that. Rather than succumb to his captors, James Stockdale beat himself to near death so his wounds would make him undesirable for public display in anti-American propaganda films. He inspired every fellow POW.

After the war, when he joined a Stanford think tank, some on the faculty objected to his credentials -- as if a book could provide a better understanding of war than his experience.

Today, with the fiscal cliff looming, few of us seriously ask: Who am I? Why am I here?

We're more concerned about the foibles of our sports stars or the antics of "Honey Boo Boo."

Laughter is a good thing.

...but sometimes it distracts us from a valuable lesson.

Those are my thoughts, tell me yours at jmccaa@wfaa.com.