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Who Am I? Why Am I Here? The Stockdale Paradox

Remember what a fool they made of Admiral Stockdale in the VP debates?


http://youtu.be/T1w3FgB0Ohc

Did anyone ever bother to find out, who he was? Again, a short history lesson, courtesy Wikipedia:

Flying from USS Oriskany on a mission over North Vietnam on September 9, 1965, Stockdale ejected from his Douglas A-4E Skyhawk, which had been struck by enemy fire and completely disabled. He parachuted into a small village, where he was severely beaten and taken prisoner.

Stockdale was held as a prisoner of war in the Hoa Lo prison for the next seven and one-half years. As the senior Naval officer, he was one of the primary organizers of prisoner resistance. Tortured routinely and denied medical attention for the severely damaged leg he suffered during capture, Stockdale created and enforced a code of conduct for all prisoners which governed torture, secret communications, and behavior. In the summer of 1969, he was locked in leg irons in a bath stall and routinely tortured and beaten. When told by his captors that he was to be paraded in public, Stockdale slit his scalp with a razor to purposely disfigure himself so that his captors could not use him as propaganda. When they covered his head with a hat, he beat himself with a stool until his face was swollen beyond recognition. When Stockdale was discovered with information that could implicate his friends' "black activities", he slit his wrists so they could not torture him into confession.

. . .

In a business book by James C. Collins called Good to Great, Collins writes about a conversation he had with Stockdale regarding his coping strategy during his period in the Vietnamese POW camp.

I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.

When Collins asked who didn't make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied:

Oh, that's easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart."

Stockdale then added:

This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."

Witnessing this philosophy of duality, Collins went on to describe it as the Stockdale Paradox

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Michael Nystrom's picture

Self bump

for the afternoon crowd.

To be mean is never excusable, but there is some merit in knowing that one is; the most irreparable of vices is to do evil out of stupidity. - C.B.

The Media Dog Pile

Excellent extract! Thanks for adding the emphasis for us, too.

The obscene sniggering and demeaning attitude shown by the media and their useful idiot imps toward ADMIRAL Stockdale at that debate, and during the subsequent weeks, created such gut-wrenching nausea in me that I finally stopped paying any attention to what is now laughingly referred to as "The Fourth Estate" ... that was a few years ago. ;-)

Thanks for posting this message, Manystrom. I had almost forgotten what an awesome MAN Admiral Stockdale was ... and how REAL MEN get chewed up and spat out by the cronies and posers.

Stockdale had more heroism in his pinky finger than John McCain can find in his entire corporeal form, in my considered opinion.