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from the July 2007 Star Beacon
The Quiet Senator
by Chief Joseph and John Cali
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 month 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
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
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.
Here’s Chief Joseph.
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
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
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
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