A Pragmatic Idealist
Woody was an idealist, but not one who ignored practical considerations. He was also a realist and a pragmatist. Let me explain. Woody had a high standard of how we should treat eachother and our world. He had a profound optimism that we (humanity) can improve ourselves, greatly reducing the violence and suffering throughout the world. He was a pragmatist about how to achieve this. Politically, you could call him progressive. But you wouldn't catch him voting for a third party in a two party contest where the parties differ significantly. (And he would argue strenuously against the proposition that there was not a significant difference between Gore and Bush.) And of course he was well aware of the forms of voting which are more democratic than the U.S. winner-take-all system. Reform of the basic political process was vitally important to Woody. Yet he advocated changing institutions from within where possible. He pointed out that a series of small changes, properly made, could add up to large reforms over time.
Woody, more than anyone I know, lived his philosophy. He made sure that at least the portion of the world he had a say in would not have violence or suffering. He spent his working life caring for some of the most needy people, such as mentally handicapped persons, as well as elderly and young people. He was an expert at resolving conflicts and building bridges between people. But for all his day-to-day work with individuals, Woody thought in more global ways about how the human condition could be improved. He thought about how technologies could be used in new ways to assist learning and teacher-student interaction, for instance. Woody had an inventor's mind. He had a good background in the sciences and technology, and an original way of approaching problems.