Doing The Hard Thing

When Bob Casey packed up and left his office as governor of Pennsylvania, among his most prized possessions was a letter from a little girl. It read: Hi! My name is Jessica Stobaugh. I am ten. I was adopted. My birth mom chose life for me. I am proud to live in Pennsylvania because you are the governor of our state. Thank you for fighting for unborn children, even when it's a hard thing to do. Standing against abortion has been "a hard thing" for Bob Casey, and a 10-year-old girl could hardly find a better hero in today's often less-than-heroic political world. As a Democrat, Casey has often been ostracized from his own party. Though a successful two-term governor of a major state, he was shut out of the last two Democratic national conventions. He has stood up for his principles against overwhelming political pressure. In his inspiring autobiography, Fighting for Life, we learn how a man of heroic proportions is made--by facing one "hard thing" at a time. Casey's father was a coal miner who decided to become an attorney midway through life. Inspired by his example, Casey trained for a career in law and then pursued political office. He ran for governor of Pennsylvania three times and lost--but each time he came back fighting and finally reached his goal in 1986. As governor, Casey made families a top priority, lowering taxes and creating model health care programs for women and children. Going against the grain of his party, Casey did another hard thing: He worked with the state legislature to secure the toughest restrictions on abortion in the country. His accomplishments in Pennsylvania put Republicans to shame, many of whom call themselves pro-life but refuse to do battle for their convictions. In addition to his political career, Casey and his wife have reared eight children--another "hard thing" to do and do well. But then disaster struck. In 1990, after being reelected by the largest landslide in Pennsylvania history, Casey was diagnosed with a rare, incurable disease. The odds of survival were a million to one. But at the last possible minute, an extraordinary team of surgeons saved Casey's life. A heroic mother was willing to donate her murdered son's heart and liver. And then, Casey did another hard thing: As his doctor put it, "he grabbed on to the last rung of life on his way down the chute and pulled himself back to the top." Better, I believe, to say that God spared him for a purpose. Casey has left the governor's mansion in Harrisburg, but he will never leave my personal hall of heroes of our generation. In his book A World without Heroes, George Roche defines a hero as someone who "overcomes the ordinary and attains greatness by serving some great good. His example rebukes us; telling us that we fail, not by aiming too high in life, but by aiming too low." If you have or know young children like Jessica Stobaugh, give them a real hero who can inspire them to reach for a higher goal. Tell them the story of Bob Casey, who is willing to fight for what's right--even when it's the "hard thing" to do.


Chuck Colson


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