This simple and innocuous question took some deep pondering (and soul searching) from me. A name or a list of candidates didn’t jump out at me. I had to think hard, scanning across multiple categories, dimensions and geographies.
I ruled out national leaders, as I had become disillusioned with how politics and governance has de-generated significantly from the golden years of statesmanship for the better good of fellow citizens and humanity/the world at large.
A list slowly formed in my mind, as I considered the discussions I would want to have, to explore, to gain insights/perspectives:
- Edward Snowden
- Julian Assange
- Pope Francis
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali
- Chelsea Manning
- Jeff Bezos
- Bill Gates
I had to think deeply of females/ladies before I came up with Ayaan and Manning (do I subconsciously have a masculine-bias?). So, this is my list at this point in time, Jan 2018. It tells me that I need to enlarge my world view further, to push and seek notables whose work, ideas or achievements I would want to know and engage on.
Snowden and Assange are individuals who have risked much, to expose deep states that threaten true liberty and freedom. The Pope has substantially moved the Church into its own mini-reformation. Much remains to be done, especially with a clergy rooted in traditions and struggling with past transgressions. Ayaan’s insights into the changes needed within Islam would provide a great dialog on how Islam and Western civilization come to terms and harmony. Manning’s own personal persecution and her future congressional plans point to a deeper convition about the changes needed. Bezos’ success at futuristic business models point to an evolution in commerce and business. It would be interesting to understand how he perceives the evolution of human labor.
Which leaves Gates. He would be the one that I would select, not because of his success at Microsoft. Rather, it’s his work at the Foundation that interests me, how they are addressing global-scale challenges that impact the poor, the sick and the hungry. How he considers the intractable problems and threads a way to jump start, mobilize alliances and seeks a lasting solution. That would nourish my inner belief that we can solve such scaled challenges.
The value of this exercise wasn’t so much the list and the selection itself. Rather it caused me to internalize that I have been coasting along, in regard to observing the world beyond my immediate bubble. I look forward to re-visiting this topic at some point in the future.
Next morning….as I was lying down in bed for the night, it struck me that Gates is not particularly known as a social conversationalist. The idea of how enjoyable or smooth flowing the conversation could be, led me to the category of comedians. That it could be enjoyable as well as insightful. Which ended with two comedians on my list, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel. While I realize they have writers for their material, they obviously must have some originality as well as passion over the materials they have delivered. Ah…..this matter of the contemporary figure that I would love to spend a day with, is far from settled!