You don’t have to climb Mount Everest or win the Nobel Prize to make a difference.
That’s according to former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who writes about ordinary people doing extraordinary things in “It’s Up to Us: Ten Little Ways We Can Bring About Big Change” (Hanover Square Press, $19.99).
He tells about people such as Florence Wisniewski, a 5-year-old Chicago girl. She recruited her little brother, pulled a red wagon and collected first aid supplies for people hit by Hurricane Florence in North and South Carolina.
Gov. Kasich, 67, later writes in his book about Albert Lexie, a shoe shine man who became inspired to help when he saw a children’s hospital telethon in Pittsburgh. He withdrew every dollar he had and walked into the hospital to make an $800 donation.
His book cites other Americans who have made a difference.
“All of these are examples of people I’ve either met or have read about who have inspired me,” Gov. Kasich told the News-Press recently by phone from his home in Columbus, Ohio.
He will discuss the people and principles in “It’s Up to Us” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday during a UCSB Arts & Lectures talk at the university’s Campbell Hall.
“I think that when a lot of people see my name, they think it’s going to be a political book,” said Gov. Kasich, who lost the 2016 Republican presidential nomination to President Donald Trump. “It’s really the anti-political book.”
His book explains that while the president has a lot of power, who sits in the White House ultimately matters less than the people who sit in homes across America.
“Our country is not going to be stronger because we have a better government,” Gov. Kasich told the News-Press. “Our country will be stronger when people realize that the country is them and what they do matters.”
Gov. Kasich, who was born in McKees Rocks, Pa., learned about the importance of being interested in others from his father, a mailman.
“He paid attention to the people his route. So it was not just delivering the mail, but it was understanding what was going on in their lives,” Gov. Kasich said. “They liked him because he showed interest.”
Gov. Kasich grew up to have a career in investment banking and serve from 1983 to 2001 in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he sat on the Armed Services Committee and chaired the Budget Committee. He hosted “Heartland with John Kasich” from 2001 to 2007 on Fox News Channel before serving as governor of Ohio from 2011 to Jan. 13, 2019.
Gov. Kasich, who’s now a CNN commentator, has written four New York Times best sellers.
During the News-Press interview, he discussed some of the principles in his latest book, “It’s Up With Us.” They’re ways of bringing about big change.
The principles include starting or joining a movement or otherwise acting to help others.
That can be something as simple as shoveling snow off a walk for a neighbor who’s unable to do that for his home, Gov. Kasich said. “It’s not about having to win the Nobel Prize. What you do matters. And it leads to a permanent impression. Nothing good is ever lost.”
Another principle in his book is “Love thy neighbor.”
Gov. Kasich said that means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and, again, doing kind things such as carrying groceries for a woman whose hands are full with her kid.
He cited examples of empathy that his upcoming UCSB audience can appreciate.
For example, Gov. Kasich said, it’s important to show compassion and be supportive if you’re a college student and your roommate’s mother is sick.
Empathy also applies when good things happen to others, Gov. Kasich said. “If someone aces a test, I would think about how happy I would be if I were them. So why don’t I congratulate them?
“It’s not that hard,” Gov. Kasich said. “You just have to put yourself in someone else’s position and think about what their life is like.”
Gov. Kasich’s principles include being open to other people’s point of views.
“We have too many people who only want to hear what they agree with,” he said. “The ability to grow is the ability to consider points of view that are not your own. That’s hard for people to do.”
Gov. Kasich said despite differences in Americans’ views, there are important, shared values.
“We all know that we should help someone who’s down,” he said. “We all know we should celebrate with someone when they’ve had a success.
“We know we should show respect for others,” he said.
“We know family’s important. Everyone agrees with that,” Gov. Kasich said. “I talk (in the book) about the fact it’s good to have dinners at home, at least once a week, and turn off the cell phones and focus on one another.
“Some have a harder time doing that than others, but you should make it a priority,” he said.
And individuals need to remember they’re special, Gov. Kasich said.
“Nobody has ever been like you, and nobody will ever be like you again,” he said. “So why don’t we think about what it is that makes each of us special.
“That allows you to have confidence and think about what your purpose,” Gov. Kasich said. “Everybody has a specific purpose.”