Ever since I was in middle school, I have been very fond of old westerns (I guess they weren’t that old when I was in middle school). Much to the chagrin of my teachers, I completed many homework assignments and school projects while watching reruns of Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and Alias Smith and Jones. I have had this knack for being able to tune the tv out while knocking out some deep work. My sister – on the other hand – would be lulled a catatonic state while watching tv. As her mouth opened and the drool started to flow, we would catch it all and water the lawn with it. I still do this (not the drooling). My best “space” top write in is a hotel room with a view with a mindless sitcom playing in the background. I don’t know why this works. I’m not a brain expert – nor do I play one on tv – but there must be some explanation as to why the creative juices get going in that environment (and other juices for my sister).
I really don’t watch much tv (I know that’s hard to believe after that last paragraph), but when I do, I am still drawn to those old westerns, and also the movie length westerns. And if it’s starring John Wayne, that’s all the better partner. I wonder, were there ever cowboys like we see on those shows? And if there were, where have they all gone? I’m sure some easily offended person will think about all the wrong things cowboys did, but I want to focus on a few things they got right!
They Were Strong
The cowboys I enjoyed watching displayed a manly strength that is sorely missing in our culture today. Maybe it’s missing because it is put down, ridiculed, destroyed. It’s not the strength that’s bad, but the abuse of that strength. And maybe too many men in our culture have abused their strength and used it to control others.
The cowboys were not afraid of anything! If there was a noise outside and they were 92% sure it was a grizzly, they went outside anyway. If there were ten bad guys against two and the likelihood of the two coming out alive was small, they went after the bad guys anyway!They did all these things to protect the women and children. My wife’s grandfather could have been a cowboy. He tied his own tourniquet after suffering from an amputation due to a farming accident.
When cowboys had an opportunity to inflict revenge on someone who had hurt them, they restrained themselves.
They Were Honest
I remember watching one John Wayne movie when the following dialogue took place (I can’t remember their names, so they are made up – I can barely remember all my grandkids names – but before you judge, number 10 is on the way.
Jacob: John, what do you have against me?
John: I don’t have nothing against you Jacob.
Jacob: Well we’ve been running cattle together for ten years in this here outfit, yet you never talk to me.
John: I don’t have nothing against you, I just don’t like you.
‘Why can’t we be like that. There is so much pretending and finagling. It’s ok to not like someone. It’s not ok to discriminate against them, but not liking is fine. If you harbor hate, that’s a different story.
Little kids and dogs are more like the cowboys in this regard.
They Had Superpowers
If God were to grant me one wish, I wouldn’t wish for good looks (he has already blessed me with those), I wouldn’t wish for money, I wouldn’t wish for wisdom. I’d wish for cowboy superpowers.
Whenever it is handy, a cowboy can just sneak up on someone, and deliver a sharp blow from the handle of his pistol to the shoulder/base of the neck, instantly knocking a bad guy out cold. Think about the MANY uses of this skill.
I teach middle school (no further description necessary)…
The guy who just won’t stop talking even when he’s been asked several times to quit…
The person with their cell phone out in the theater…
The husband being rude to his wife…
Maybe it’s good that God doesn’t give me this superpower!
They Cared For Their Animals
You could abuse a guy with your words all day long, but do something to his horse or dog and you would feel the wrath. At the very minimum, you’d get a pistol grip to the base of your neck.
They Stood On Principle
No matter the cost in their own life or property, they always did the right thing. Whether it was paying their bills, protecting the underdog, and especially protecting their own wife and kids. They were willing to die for truth and justice and for their friends.*
Sometimes They Just Had to Duke It Out
Cowboys were rarely offended by anything, but occasionally something would really irk them, and they and their friend or coworker simply needed to duke it out for a little while. They didn’t want to kill each other, they just needed to get the anger out and in the open. A fist fight would usually resolve the problem and leave the two as life long friends. I don’t recommend this as a way to resolve conflict, but perhaps seeing how they handles conflict can help us see that we may need to share our true feelings at times, get everything out in the open, and then regroup and renew the friendship
James is a middle school band teacher, musician, author, speaker, husband, dad, and grandad. His wife accuses him of wanting to be a cowboy, and in fact he does. Find out more about him at www.jamesdivine.net. Get his music for free at www.jazzysaxman.com.
*The greatest leader who ever lived – Jesus Christ – said that there is no greater love than that a man lay down his life for his friends. In fact, that’s what Jesus himself did, but much more than just to save our physical lives. His death enabled us to be saved spiritually from eternal death if we believe in Him.