Dec 3, 2014

Code of the West and American Society

John Wayne was the embodiment of the silver screen cowboy, and was quoted saying:
A man's got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job.
John Wayne had become a legend even before his death on June 11, 1979.
His best film, however, was not a western or a war film, but an Irish love story, The Quiet Man (1952), co-starring Maureen O'Hara who had come to respect him and his life-long best friend.
The US Army developed a Soldier's Creed, a code for American combat personnel to live by and serve with honor and integrity:
I am an American Soldier.
I am a warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.
I believe that the major problem with American society today is that our youth have not been raised to respect and adhere to a code of honor, integrity, and compassion. Instead of putting others before oneself, a generation has developed that is solely concerned with self gratification. Of course, as the Founders knew, especially stated by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, when society becomes less than honorable, losing that which makes a code of conduct keep a society with established values; so does the government become corrupted and constitutional law falls by the way.
Everyone needs a code … A creed to live by.
And that code imbibes the following points of personal values:
  • Live each day with courage.
  • Take pride in your work.
  • Always finish what you start.
  • Do what has to be done.
  • Be tough, but fair.
  • When you make a promise, keep it.
  • Ride for the brand.
  • Talk less and say more.
  • Remember that some things are not for sale.
  • Know where to draw the line.
Unknown Cowboy, 1880s
The last line item from above is basically what progressives cannot understand, those who have taken over American politics in their zeal to establish American socialism, basically what is wrong with the system and society, concerned more about living others' lives. Their proclaimed liberalism is not really liberal at all, not drawing a line as to how liberal they must be and countering against liberalism they profess to act upon they push to bury any other ideas. Like Islamic Jihadists, they demand tolerance while administering intolerance.
Western films and books have gradually fallen out of favor with the public since its introduction by Zane Grey in his 1923/1934 novel The Code of the West.
In reality, the true western life had a code, but it was not written; yet pioneers and cowboys were bound by and lived by those unwritten rules that favored hospitality, fair play, loyalty, and respect for the land.
In 1969, Ramon Adams, a Western historian wrote:
Back in the days when the cowman with his herds made a new frontier, there was no law on the range. Lack of written law made it necessary for him to frame some of his own, thus developing a rule of behavior which became known as the "Code of the West." These homespun laws, being merely a gentleman’s agreement to certain rules of conduct for survival, were never written into statutes, but were respected everywhere on the range.
Though the cowman might break every law of the territory, state and federal government, he took pride in upholding his own unwritten code. His failure to abide by it did not bring formal punishment, but the man who broke it became, more or less, a social outcast. His friends ‘hazed him into the cutbacks’ and he was subject to the punishment of the very code he had broken.
The original 'unwritten' Code of the West were loosely the following:
  • Don't inquire into a person's past. Take the measure of a man for what he is today.
  • Never steal another man's horse. A horse thief pays with his life.
  • Defend yourself whenever necessary.
  • Look out for your own.
  • Remove your guns before sitting at the dining table.
  • Never order anything weaker than whiskey.
  • Don't make a threat without expecting dire consequences.
  • Never pass someone on the trail without saying “Howdy”.
  • When approaching someone from behind, give a loud greeting before you get within shooting range.
  • Don't wave at a man on a horse, as it might spook the horse. A nod is a proper greeting.
  • After you pass someone on the trail, don't look back at him. It implies you don't trust him.
  • Riding another man's horse without his permission is nearly as bad as making love to his wife. Never even bother another man's horse.
  • A cowboy doesn't talk much; he saves his breath for breathing.
  • No matter how weary and hungry you after a long day in the saddle, always tend to your horse's needs before your own, and get your horse some feed before you eat.
  • Cuss all you want, but only around men, horses, and cows.
  • Complain about the cooking and you become the cook.
  • Do not practice ingratitude.
  • A cowboy is pleasant even when out of sorts. Complaining is what quitters do, and cowboys hate quitters.
  • Always be courageous Cowards aren't tolerated in any outfit worth its salt.
  • A cowboy always helps someone in need, even a stranger or an enemy.
  • Never try on another man's hat.
  • Be hospitable to strangers. Anyone who wanders in, including an enemy, is welcome at the dinner table. The same was true for riders who joined cowboys on the range.
  • Never wake another man by shaking or touching him, as he might wake suddenly and shoot you.
  • Real cowboys are modest.
  • Be there for a friend when he needs you.
  • Drinking on duty is grounds for instant dismissal and blacklisting.
  • A cowboy is loyal to his “brand”, to his friends, and those he rides with.
  • Never shoot an unarmed or unwarned enemy. However, if a man was being stalked, this could be ignored.
  • Never shoot a woman no matter what.
  • Consideration for others is central to the code, such as, Don't stir up dust around the chuckwagon, don't wake the wrong man for herd duty, and so on.
  • Honesty is absolute – your word is your bond, a handshake is a binding contract.
  • Live by the Golden Rule.
Of course much of this is out-of-date, bu the gist of what the code of conduct was all about can be applied to modern life.
Western films have fallen out of favor of the general public, but it does not mean the standards and values of the 'Code of the West' should fade away. It is one of the things that made the United States unique, and once upon a time in history, made us a reputable role model to follow.

No comments:

Post a Comment

No SPAM, please. If you wish to advertise or promote website, contact me.