by Rick Dancer
I don’t know if everyone feels like I do but I have this strong urge to help right the wrongs of this world.
I never really knew that about myself until working on this documentary film on Senator Mark Hatfield. We wrapped up the last of our interviews (more than 50) last Friday.
I sit a few feet from people who loved Mark Hatfield. I ask questions, dig for information, and listen to a great story unfold about a great man. The people we interview worked with him, were the recipients of his grace, kindness and friendship and I am awed by what he left behind.
Senator Mark Hatfield was a man who was all about righting the wrongs of this world. He stood alone, he stood strong but he never tried to stand out which is why he did.
I watch people talk about him and many get tears in their eyes because he cared about them, not just their issue and never for a vote.
People who rubbed elbows with this man will never be the same. The stories we’ve heard from the mighty and the meek are so consistent, because Mark Hatfield was a model of consistency in a sea of turbulent waters driven by polls and popularity.
He supported the restoration of Indian Tribes in Oregon because it was the right thing to do, not the popular thing to do. He stood for life and against war. He didn’t stick his finger in the air to see how the wind was blowing, he stuck his neck out for us, for Oregonians because he loved this state and all that it could become. His name is everywhere, on buildings, monuments and protected land but his heart is in us and that is what he truly cared about.
Now we will begin the process of going over all the tape, listening to all those interviews and creating the story Mark Hatfield leaves behind.
As I drive back from Salem I’m thinking a lot about righting, wrongs and doing what’s right verses what’s popular. My skin is growing thicker as I think of what it takes to stand alone, really stand alone, especially in the culture we’ve created of distrust and public relations gimmicks.
Could a Mark Hatfield survive politics today? We asked everyone and the answer will be in the final product for all to see.
Perhaps what made Mark Hatfield such a good leader is he really was like us. He was independent, he cared about the big picture and never forgot why he was doing what he did….and he never stopped listening.
I believe the measure of a good man, of a good woman is not necessarily what they do, but what they leave behind in those they serve. And that is why so many consider Mark Hatfield one of the great Oregonians.