“A man ought to do what he thinks is right.” – John Wayne from Hondo, 1953.
Being a good man does not take much; all that it requires is to have a good heart, keep your nose clean, treat others with respect, work hard, and stay true to what you believe in. Maybe that is why I enjoy westerns especially John Wayne’s. Every character he portrayed had all the qualities of a good man, yes even a good man has his short comings or weak points but in the end, he still gets to ride off into the sun set. In today’s time being a good man isn’t too difficult to do, but when it’s one man against many it can be a rough journey. There is a lot of selfish, self-centered people out there that justify their means; use others as stepping stones or sabotage another to help themselves shine; and will always try to drag down the good man to their level to prove there is no moral difference. The quote above may be simple words but they carry the strength of iron. Iron becomes strong through extreme heat and force, once it is forged then goes through the cooling process it is formed and strong. A good man is like iron, his fire was experiences and the force was his own will that forged himself into the man he is. So, let’s talk about what makes a good man and how in the end the so-called cowboy will always be left standing.
Morals, values, honor, and a good heart make up the inner self of a good man. Morals and Values are developed through family teachings, throughout walks of life, self-reflection, and held in the heart. Honor is a creed or a vow that is taken very seriously and is more of a personal standard in everyday life. A good heart is where it is all kept, it is also where it becomes stronger. Morals and values seem to be forgotten element, to me if you don’t have good morals or good values you have no direction, no sense or right or wrong. To the masses, right and wrong are just points of view, but the cowboy doesn’t pay any mind to such statements. For in his heart, he knows what is right and what is wrong. He walks with his eyes forward and keeps his back turned to the wrong doings and bad gossiping. Also, a good heart is where the good man desires to care for his family, friends, neighbors, animals, church, community, and for his place of work. A good-hearted man may appear soft due to his quiet nature but make no mistake he is ready to defend what he cares for.
A good heart doesn’t mean the cowboy is soft, in fact he is one of the toughest individuals you can ever come across. Like the old west cowboys, they worked long days on the ranch, fed the livestock, broke-in horses, and wrestled cattle. They provide food by hunting, harvest crops during the season, they keep a can of coffee and a bottle of whiskey for when it calls for a drink. They know how to use the pistol holstered on their gun belt and the lever action across their shoulder but most importantly they know when to use them. Today’s modern cowboys, although the times have changed the spirit is the same. Many do not work on ranches but have modern jobs, still they work hard. They make the sell, deliver their shipments, or work more hands-on jobs regardless they do it with passion and determination. They work hard then come home to the comfort of their family and loyal pets, that’s what makes them strong. The cowboy will have people talk behind his back, throw insults to his good nature, keep him from his earnings due to politics or favoritism, or try and trip him up along the way but he pays it no mind and keep moving forward. Because he knows the higher road is the more honorable choice, and the reward in the end will be much better.
Now we’ve talked about the inner and outer strengths of the cowboy, there is one that is just as important if not more important. It is what makes each man unique, standing for what he believes is right. Earlier I talked about doing the right thing which we can cover by being a respectable, good person. Now standing for what you believe in is right is where the real challenges arise.
“A man has to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job.” – John Wayne
What the cowboy believes in, hopes for, and the most important has faith in is what makes him unique, what sets him apart from the others. What he believes in will be questioned, what he hopes for will be told its hopeless, and his faith will be tested; it is how he stands alone in those storms that shows how strong he really is.
As you go out into the day don’t let the pressure from the rest of the bunch cause you to change what you are. Stand for what you believe is right, stand up for your morals and values, and always be a gentleman even in the ugliness of times. Because remember the cowboy always rides off into the sunset and into another day.
Written By: Cole Moorman