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The Difference one can make - page 15 / 16





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In June 2003, my best friend and business col- league Joe Overton was killed in a plane crash at the age of 43. He taught me more about the importance of character than anyone else I have ever known. He could teach it because he lived it. While composing a eulogy for his funeral, I came across a few lines about what the world needs. I’ve never learned who the author was so I can’t offer appropriate credit, and in any event, I added a lot to it. It not only describes what the world desperately needs, it described my friend Joe perfectly. I share it with you as I close:

  • e world needs more men and women who

do not have a price at which they can be bought; who do not borrow from integrity to pay for ex- pediency; who have their priorities straight and in proper order; whose handshake is an iron- clad contract; who are not afraid of taking risks to advance what is right; and who are honest in small matters as they are in large ones.

  • e world needs more men and women whose

ambitions are big enough to include others; who know how to win with grace and lose with dignity; who do not believe that shrewdness and cunning and ruthlessness are the three keys to success; who still have friends they made twenty years ago; who put principle and consistency above politics or personal advancement; and who are not afraid to go against the grain of popular opinion.

  • e world needs more men and women who

do not forsake what is right just to get consensus

Th e S to r y o f N i c h o l a s Wi n to n a n d Th e I m p o r t a n ce o f C h a ra c te r

because it makes them look good; who know how important it is to lead by example, not by barking orders; who would not have you do something they would not do themselves; who work to turn even the most adverse circumstances into opportunities to learn and improve; and who love even those who have done some injustice or unfairness to them. e world, in other words, needs more men and women of character.

Make this day the start of a lifelong commitment to building character. Be the kind of virtuous ex- ample that others will respect, admire, emulate and remember. You’ll not only go to your reward some day with a smile and a clear conscience, you will enhance many other lives along the way. How can any of us settle for any less?

Character saves lives, as the story of Nicholas Winton teaches us. It also defines each one of us as a person and in the process, shapes entire nations and determines their course. is is why the Macki- nac Center for Public Policy has devoted talent and resources to the character issue. ough much of our work focuses on specific public policy issues, we know that good policy ultimately derives from good char- acter. at’s another way of saying that we shouldn’t expect government to be any better than the people it reflects. We hope that these two essays will help spark a revival of interest in the critical role that character plays in a free society. •

Mackinac Center for Public Policy


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