Most politicians are drawn to the limelight and the media headlines like moths to a flame. But a few of them are different.
Craig Thomas was one of those who was different.
As you may have heard, Wyoming’s senior US Senator, Craig Thomas, died last week after a brief illness. Craig was born and lived most of his life in Cody, the town I live in. He was loved and respected by almost everyone in Cody and throughout Wyoming. Widely known as a friendly, fair man, he had a great sense of humor. A quality sorely lacking, in my opinion, in this country’s capital city.
Unlike some of Wyoming’s other more famous personalities, such as Vice President Dick Cheney, Buffalo Bill Cody, and outlaw Butch Cassidy, Craig lived his life quietly and with little fanfare.
He shunned the limelight of Washington, DC and avoided the capital’s often-nasty political infighting. Many outside of Wyoming never even knew who he was. One prominent federal official in Washington invited Craig to a conference recently. The invitation stunned Craig’s aides, as it came several days after his death.
He was a good, decent man always doing what he believed was right, despite being in a high-profile profession where the temptations are too much for many weaker souls. He represented his beloved Wyoming and its people fairly and competently for many years. And the people loved him for it.
I went to his burial service here in Cody last Sunday. It was a quiet event, but the outpouring of love and respect for Craig and his family was overwhelming. You could feel it in the air.
The quiet senator had made a difference, a big positive difference in the lives of so many people. And he did it without fanfare. He did it by simply being who he was. By being true to himself, to those he loved, and to the land he loved.
Your poet, William Shakespeare, said “. . . to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” Rarely has such sage, yet simple, advice ever been uttered.
So many humans find it tempting and easy even, to betray themselves. To betray their values, their beliefs, their sense of justice — usually because they want to impress or please others.
This is obviously true in the political arenas of your modern world. It’s damned hard to be a politician in your world today without betraying your most cherished principles. Not impossible, but often hard. And everyone suffers.
We know this will sound insane to some of you — but if you had a world full of politicians (and ordinary citizens) like Craig Thomas, you’d find yourselves living in a much different, more peaceful world.
You don’t have to have a big reputation. You don’t have to do spectacular deeds. You don’t have to grab the limelight or the media headlines.
Without doing any of that, you can still make a huge difference in the world around you. Simply by being true to yourselves and your principles, you will make a difference.
People will be drawn to you. They will resonate with your energy and be touched by your words — even by your physical presence without any words.
You probably won’t ever make a newspaper headline or reach tens of thousands of others. But you will make a positive difference in the lives of those immediately around you.
And those immediately around you will, in turn, make a difference in the lives of those around them. And so on — it’s the “ripple effect” we’ve spoken of before.
You, one person standing alone in the steadfastness of your own truth, can ultimately touch your whole world. You may never know the results. But you can be sure your life has mattered.
Your world can use many more “quiet senators” in public and in private life.