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3/27/2007

What Is It Good For?

Frontier Kansas was recognized as all frontiers are as a land of opportunity. Thousands of people turned their eyes toward the prairies and plains of Kansas with a dream of the future. For many that dream prevailed. Farms and ranches were carved out of the sea of grass to build into legacies that were handed down from generation to generation. I am a recipient of just such a dream. I had a dream too. I would carry on the tradition raising my family in the free spirited ideals of my forefathers. Living the good life in rural America was not only my goal but the goal of many who found the road too rough. For most of my lifetime I have watched as neighbor after neighbor gave up the dream. A countryside filled with neighbors has become a cultural wasteland.  
 
There are many reasons for the demise of rural America. I have pointed them out many times in the Cowboy Commentaries of the past. Recently I have taken another look. What I found lying deep beneath the surface is disturbing, because, in the end the answer lies in a condition that defies human nature. 
 
When we were kids we used to play a game called King of the Mountain. It is a rough house game of wrestling and playing one against the other with the idea that the fellow that can hold his position at the top is King over all. The game supports the idea that this is a finite world with only so many resources and if a fellow wants to survive he needs to be at the very top trampling everyone else under foot. Now one would think that that particular young fellow at the top would be the most heroic of the tribe. He must be a true leader of the boys that everyone can look up to. But just what is the real motivation to becoming King of the Mountain?  
 
When it comes right down to it our most admired quality of success is motivated by fear. We are driven to succeed from an infinite fear of failure. From that fear human beings have justified the lowest of deeds throughout history. One would think that the United States of America with all of the wonderful resources at its disposal would be capable of leading the world to peace and prosperity, but instead of leading with confidence we chose fear of attack as a reason TO attack. We fight terrorism out of fear that terrorism will continue. And why does terrorism continue? It continues because those very people fear the values of the western world. The twin towers were not attacked out of some great confidence in the greatness of the culture of Islam. No, the twin towers were attacked out of fear. We are all running scared; afraid that our lives will change and afraid that the other guy will become King of the Mountain.  
 
Why does North Korea keep its people locked within its borders? Why do Mexicans flood over their border to America? Why are people killing one another in Darfur? Why did the Turks kill the Armenians? Why did the Nazi s kill Jews? Why did the United States systematically decimate the Indians? Why are multi-national corporations destroying not only the American economy but the economies of the nations of the world? The questions are infinite. But the answer is specific and is the same no matter the question. Someone is clawing and biting to get to the top. Someone is prepared to do anything to become King of the Mountain. Someone is very afraid that someone else will be stronger and will have mastery over the entire world when the game is over. But the game is never over. Sooner or later someone else dethrones the king. And in the end all those people that were trampled under foot were trampled for nothing.  
 
Am I afraid? You bet I am. All I ever wanted to do was to continue a family tradition and live in peace. I could live without fear in a stable world that respected my contribution. So how in the world does one Cowboy turn a whole world around? How do we look into each others eyes and see ourselves respecting the dreams of each and every person to live without fear? We know the cause of injustice. We know the cause of war. We know that those who strive to be king are no greater than ourselves. The kings of the world are just more afraid. What is a world of fear good for? Absolutely Nothing! The truly courageous are those who face a frightened world and offer peaceful confidence. May we all have that kind of courage.  
So Long, 
The Cowboy 
 

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