Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 25, 2002
Speak your truth and pay the price
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
A really good guy I know decided this year he'd run for Congress. He's not a career politician, but a civil service worker. Too often he found himself complaining about "the government" and the people in it.
His wife, fed up with his griping, told him to do something about it himself. And so he did. Amazingly, he managed to raise the necessary money for a race and was given his party's nomination.
Apparently new candidates in the major parties go through an orientation program by meeting in Washington with campaign experts. I saw my friend shortly after his return and he was deeply discouraged.
You see, the principal reasons he had decided to run for Congress was to be an advocate for all human life. He opposes abortion and capital punishment. He believes the government needs to do more for the poor. He thinks handguns must be more tightly controlled.
But at this "school for candidates," he was told to be quiet about these issues because candidates who avoid controversy are more successful. Dance around issues and hope that voters think you are nice or attractive, but don't put them off by your opinions.
My candidate friend was in a quandary. Speak his mind and risk losing support? Or let voters know exactly how he feels on issues and hope that they'll vote for him and his strong opinions?
I was thinking of my friend's dilemma while on my way to attend a gathering of supporters of the Susan B. Anthony List. The list is named in honour of the great suffragette who also believed that abortion was wrong. It supports pro-life women running for national office.
The surprising part of our gathering was the guest of honour, two-time Emmy winner Patricia Heaton, star of television's Everybody Loves Raymond series. She was there to testify to a belief in the sacredness of all human life.
Patricia admitted that a pro-life perspective is not popular in Hollywood, but she felt the need to "be true to myself and my principles." Heaton admitted that she loved her success and did not want to jeopardize her popularity.
But neither did she want to stand before God one day, guilty of silence, guilty of missing the chance to accomplish good. So she came to help elect pro-life women. And she did it without apology.
The day following my time with her, I had lunch with my candidate friend. He was still mulling over what to do: listen to the experts or listen to his heart. I told him about Patricia Heaton. He listened, nodded, and then left for his next campaign stop.
Later that same day I ran into his campaign manager who was obviously agitated. "You should have heard him this evening. He was on fire. But he spoke about all the hot button issues they told us to avoid. He's got it in his head that it's better to lose and speak his truth than win and be a phony." With exasperation he added, "Up until now, he was right on track!"
I saw my friend the next day. He looked like a new man. His confidence was back. I asked him what had happened.
"You know, Father, if this actress had the backbone to tell the truth then so should I. Here she is, at the height of her career, with no need to be controversial.
"Who am I to be timid? I hope I win, but I need to be myself either way."
A congressional candidate and a TV actress. Two good folks who understand the cost of taking a stand - and of not taking one.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, Being a Good Neighbour, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY, 10017; or e-mail: email@example.com.)
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