Tonight, the two major presidential candidates will meet in debate.

It will be interesting to see how many viewers tune in and how many really want to hear what the debators say.

The number of people who tune in may be considerably larger than the number who are prepared to listen.

Many voters still have not decided whether to support Carter, Reagan or one of the other candidates. But among those who have made a choice, there are many haters. These are people who are not particularly for one candidate but very much against one or more of the others.

Some haters are so set in their opinions that they will not even bother to turn on their TV sets tonight. Others will tune to the debate not for the purpose of informing theselves but in the hope of seeing their man clober the other guy.

That's a pity.

A face-to-face confrontation is the traditional way, the best way, for political adversaries to give voters a fair basis for comparison. However, if we tune in with closed minds, not to learn but to be in on the kill when a hated opponent is demolished, we waste a wonderful opportunity to perform a civic duty intelligently.

We have the duty and responsibility to help choose the best candidate. Listening with an open mind can help us achieve that goal.

It makes me uncomfortable to realize that at this late moment I have not yet made up my own mind, and that my vote may very well be decided by what I see and hear tonight.

That's staking too much on a single encounter during which one candidate or the other may be temporarily fatigued or indisposed, and therefore at a disadvantage physically, mentally or emotionally. However, it would make me even more uncomfortable if the candidates were not to face each other at all. A series of debates would have been better because many encounters would have reduced the element of luck and increased the public's opportunity to evaluate the two men.

But one debate is better than no debaates at all, and I will try to listen with a mind purged of political bias.

My country can't afford to be saddled with a president born of hatred and negativism. We need a president elected for the positive contribution he can make.