(shameless bragging mode ON)
I am the blessed recipient of what can be called a stellar intellect. Since childhood I have gone through books like popcorn. Paleontology was an early favourite in elementary school, later followed history, physics, politics, economics, literature, more history, more politics, and philosophy. In school I was always the class wunderkind, scoring an apparently endless series of A's and answering Trivial Pursuit questions that had others mystified.
I made the decision early on to major in computer science and work as a computer professional, at least to start, but that has never been a lifelong career ambition. Rather, it is an attempt to consolidate a financial base before heading out into what fascinated me the most - politics.
I have always been a news junkie and read newspapers, opinion magazines, and the like almost compulsively, becoming supremely well-informed about politics and current affairs. In school and university I delved into activities not normally associated with science majors - debating, model UN, public speaking etc.
I will not deny I possess the lust for power. But there is something more profound underneath. I have always been sensitive to the question of human suffering and injustice. The great evils that take place in the world affect me almost personally.
It hurts me when I hear of street children in Brazil being murdered and dismembered, or helpless refugess in Zaire abaondoned into war and disease, or child labourers in Bangladesh working long and brutal hours, or Timorese villagers oppressed in Indonesia.
Closer to home, it burns me when I see mentally ill homeless men poking forlornly in garbage cans, or long lines of single-parent families at food banks, or thousands of young people hunting in vain for jobs, or women and children being beaten and abused. I want to do what I can to correct these things, and that is something only those in power can do.
To me, compassion must be the driving force of any political persuasion. Through my reading and lifetime, I have systematically built up a comprehensive personal political and economic ideology, but beneath this intellectual superstructure lies a far more fundamental emotion - a burning desire for Justice, defined as striving for Compassion, in all its forms
To most people, I appear an intellectual, with an aloof exterior and a bookish mind. Inside, I am alive. I can be moved to tears by the last page of A Tale of Two Cities, resonate with the fury of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, feel in my bones the soulful passions of the Brothers Karamazov, or croon along with the wistful melancholy of Simon and Garfunkel. As to music, it has much the same effect on me as it does for you. My first love is classical music, but I also like selected modern musicians, though I admit to being somewhat out of place in mainstream mass culture.
Private email, Nov. 10, 1996.