A Good Man Doing “Something”

Aug 1, 2013 | Culture/Society

“All that is necessary for evil to prosper is that good men do nothing.”

That is a paraphrase of the famous quote by Edmund Burke. Knowing this proverb to be true in any form, however, why don’t more of us step forward, raise our voices, and make the difference that is so desperately needed in our nation if this republic is to stand?

Book dedications are usually personal expressions from the author to spouses, sons and daughters, or best friends. Most readers probably do not give the dedication page a second thought. Imagine then, my surprise, when The Heart Mender was published and after seeing the dedication, people began asking me, “Who are the Stimpsons?”

The dedication reads: To the Stimpson family of Mobile, Alabama.

StimpsonFrom childhood, most of us were taught to at least attempt to model our lives after great men and women. Somewhere along the way, married and with young boys, I decided to expand that pursuit of wisdom into a close and constant examination of great families. The Stimpson family is among the greatest our nation has produced.

There are so many things I could tell you about this family and maybe someday I will, but the principles established six generations ago that this family continues to follow today would require a book. And it would be a big book. Do you know of any other large group of related people who have created a Family Mission Statement? I don’t…

Today, I want to tell you about one family member. William Sandys Stimpson—everyone calls him Sandy—is my “adopted” big brother. Our boys call him Uncle Sandy and they think he hung the moon.

For at least a decade, numerous associations and organizations have urged Sandy to seek public office. He is well known in certain circles of our state. More than a few times, Sandy has declined to run for governor, for U.S. Senate, or for Congress. Then, a few months ago, he told me he was running for mayor.

Trying to wrap my head around that, with a bit of disbelief in my voice, I said, “Mayor? Mayor? You refuse the opportunity to run for Senate…for governor… You’re serious. Mayor?”

Sandy just laughed and said he wasn’t sure he could make a difference in Washington, but he knew he could make a difference to the people of Mobile, Alabama. He said, “I believe our nation needs leaders who will step forward and give a few years to lead our nation’s towns and cities. That is how we will empower our country and its citizens.”

Indeed, he already has empowered some citizens. And not only in Mobile. Some residents of a town near Mobile—Prichard—have been the recipient of Sandy’s heart, his success in business, and his experience in changing things for the better. In 2007, Sandy answered a request to help a small, entirely African American, private elementary school in Prichard. Now known as Prichard Preparatory School, the teachers, students, and their accomplishments are a model for how a school should be run and what it can mean for a child’s future.

I’ve been to the school with Sandy and seen firsthand how the children react to this 60-year-old white man. In a town where only 13.9% of residents live together as a married couple with their children, Sandy has been a Godsend, financially and emotionally. Few people know, and he probably won’t be happy that I am spilling the beans, but for several years, Sandy and his wife, Jean, practically funded the school themselves.

For the cynics among us, allow me to add these small facts: Not only was Prichard Preparatory School begun well before Sandy ever considered running for mayor, the teachers and the parents of the students live in Prichard, Alabama… They can’t even vote in Mobile!

Sandy is a man who knows how to get things done. Perhaps more importantly, he knows why things should happen. He can actually explain why voters should turn out to vote. For instance, we always hear politicians say we need to attract business to our area. But why? Sandy says it is for the mothers in our community. What?

Here are Sandy’s own words:

“For years, Mobile’s mothers have watched their children graduate high school or college and move away. They leave because the jobs and opportunities are in Atlanta or Nashville or Dallas or Houston. I know what has to be done in order to attract industry and small business to Mobile. And when we do, the moms and dads can babysit the grandchildren all they want. They can go to church as a family and eat Sunday lunch as a family. The alternative is that things stay the same and we all see our grandchildren once in the summer and again at Christmas.”

I am writing about Sandy today because I firmly believe it is time for the best and brightest among us to step forward. What needs to happen in your town? Will it happen without you? In Mike Hubbard’s excellent book, Storming the Statehouse, he describes what will happen when good people (not professional politicians) step forward. Our cities and towns need new life in order to prove results that can restore our nation to what it once was. Who do you know with a vision, a plan, and the wisdom born of humility and life experience to accomplish what others have deemed impossible? Is it your big brother?

Is it you?


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