The classic spaghetti western High Plains Drifter (written by Ernest Tidyman) was on the other night and I just had to watch – again. In the opening of this classic, Clint Eastwood's character, The Stranger, walks into a saloon as only Eastwood can. All eyes are focused on him.
The Stranger: Beer... and a bottle.
Bartender: Ain't much good, but it's all there is.
Bartender: You want anything else?
The Stranger: Just a peaceful hour to drink it in.
Of course, all hell breaks out and so much for that peaceful hour.
The American West and cowboys have long been associate with a “White Knight-like” spirit: riding your horse into the unknown, bravery, adventure, battling evil (usually in black). In American literature and early cinema, the good guys (in tall white hats) usually had their codes, prayers, creeds, or rules they followed. For example, this from perhaps the most Knight-like of them all:
The Lone Ranger Creed
I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.
That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
The “this government, of the people, by the people, and for the people” shall live always.
That man should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
That all things change, but the truth, and the truth alone, lives forever.
I believe in my Creator, my country, my fellow man.
Eastwood's The Stranger's creed? I couldn't find one, but I imagine it to be something like: “Shoot 'em all and let God sort 'em out. Then you live with it!” Yes, Clint Eastwood's character was one bad ass. But, The Stranger had many Zen-like truths worth remembering, including:
Sarah Belding (a woman he had just slept with): Be careful. You're a man who makes people afraid, and that's dangerous.
The Stranger: It's what people know about themselves inside that makes 'em afraid.
So, what's your creed? It's something to think about the next time you drift into your favorite saloon and order a bottle and a beer.
May you have a peaceful hour to Think, Drink, and Be Merry.
Sir Bowie of Greenbriar