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Saturday, January 26, 2008

It's what people know about themselves...

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.
[brings drinks]
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

  1. I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.

  2. That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.

  3. That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.

  4. In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.

  5. That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.

  6. The “this government, of the people, by the people, and for the people” shall live always.

  7. That man should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.

  8. That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.

  9. That all things change, but the truth, and the truth alone, lives forever.

  10. 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

1 comment:

  1. Sir Bowie, through his childhood heroes, has given us much food for thought. It is so true, in the words of the Stranger, "It's what's inside us that scares us." My Grandmother Baker sumed it up best to me as a 12 year old Lone Ranger, "David, always face your fear, stare it in the eye and stand up to it, then it will be yours to conquer!" I believe it's the basic principle behind David and Goliath. So, load your sling shots and kill the giants that will kill you IF YOUR LET THEM. As far as my creed, it's the creed of the Catholic Church and the mottos of the Knights of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale blended with 51 years of life experience and plenty of seasoning: "I believe in One God, the Creator. I believe in a Holy Church made up of different individuals who together make a sum total greater than just themselves. I believe that we are unified through our diversity, and if we can truly live and embrace this universal law we can live to be free to create free of judgement for the benefit of all. I believe that we should always think, always ask questions, always seek answers and always share the above with all we encounter. I believe that we should go out of (beyond) ourselves to encounter the Spirit that always surrounds us. (Sometimes this is through Drink, Sex, Communion) I believe that we should always be merry, even when we don't want to be or feel like it. This helps to make the world, yourself and those whoes lives you cross happy.