Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?
The demise of fairness and the ability to tell the good guys from the bad ones
I often think back to the 90’s with a feeling of nostalgia for a decade that seemed as hopeful as it was prosperous. As an idealist right out of college, I listened to Paula Cole’s famous song and believed that most of us were cowboys —that we understood the ideals of right and wrong, and measured out justice, like John Wayne, with impartiality and integrity. That’s what I believed back then, anyways.
I was quite the dreamer in those days. Like all the good western movies, life seemed a little more clear-cut, more uncomplicated somehow. As I looked around I felt in my heart we were all on the same team, rooting for the same cause, our great American dream. We could easily tell the good guys from the bad guys and we were thrilled to see the good guys come riding in on their gallant white horses to save the day. To bring the bad guys to justice. It all seemed so simple.
Who are the good guys?
As I have witnessed the combined narratives of mainstream media, Facebook threads, and general water-cooler conversation these days, I find myself asking, Where have all the cowboys gone? How did we arrive at this place where our country is less important than our party, and where justice is seen only through the lens of an elephant or donkey?
I speak not against a particular party, but against an insidious trend in culture that is pitting us all against each other. Dividing us. Destroying what made this little experiment of a country so special in the first place.
We act less like Americans and more like spectators at a boxing match, waiting with baited breath for any sign of weakness, any notion that our guy is getting ready to land the final knockout blow. Where our guy is hailed the champion and the other is resigned to a dark corner of the locker room.
It appears our moral indignation and righteous anger ends at the door of our party affiliation. We become suddenly, strangely quiet when our guy takes a hit, or stumbles and falls. We jeer with a foaming anticipation at the missteps of someone, anyone, as long as they are on the other team.
We are no longer fair-minded. No longer wise. No longer models of Christ’s character. We as Believers should never be known more for our political positions than we are known for our faith, our character, our integrity.
We should be the cowboys—the model for those above the fray, who are fair-minded, with a solid standard for character and integrity. We should be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys and be willing to hold all of the bad ones to account.
Here are few questions to consider:
Are our standards held equally for those in power?
Romans 3:23 (NIV) states, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:10-12 (NIV) adds, There is no one righteous, not even one.
Are we open to consider the failings of everyone impartially, even those on our side, so to speak?
James 2:1 (ESV) tells us, My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
James 3:17 (ESV) goes on to state, But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
Can we be slow to speak, quick to listen, and fair in judging the words and actions of others, regardless of their party affiliation?
Micah 6:8 (ESV) says, He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Romans 2:11 (ESV) declares that, God shows no partiality.
Exodus 23:1-33 (ESV) further asserts, You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit. “If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him. ...
Do we care more about our side winning than righteousness prevailing?
Proverbs 21:3 (ESV) tells us, To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Do we care more about proclaiming our perspective than we do proclaiming the name of Jesus?
Mark 12:28-31 (ESV) shares, And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Hebrews 6:10 (ESV) reminds us that, God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.
Challenging Our Better Selves
The truth is, one side is not all bad, nor is the other side all good.
Matthew 7:3-5 admonishes us, Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
We should stand up for what is right, no matter who is in office. We should be sad when anyone falls or stumbles. Whether they have a “D” or an “R” next to their name, we should want wrongdoers to be held accountable for their words and actions. The hypocrisy of selective moral outrage has to stop—if we want our country, our communities, or our relationships to survive and thrive.
Could we all take a breath and remember not only who we are, but Whose we are? The world around us is watching. Are we just as angry, outraged, cynical, and vitriolic, as everyone else out there? Can we speak our perspective from a place of respect, fairness, openness, and consideration of all? Do we know what our values, beliefs, and moral expectations are or do we define them based on what someone else is doing/not doing?
We really need to think, my friends. We need to examine our idea of fairness, our idea of justice. We need to consider how we tell the good guys from the bad guys. Consider who we are, and who we want to be. I don’t know about you, but I want to be a cowboy.
About This Community
Don't we all want a little peace? My heart for this community is to provide just that - a needed refuge from all the burdens that weigh us down, some encouragement and inspiration to keep us weary travelers moving forward on our journeys, and some practical advice to help each of us navigate the challenges of life and relationships. Whether in our parenting, our marriages, our faith, or the broken places in our hearts, this place is for anyone who dares to reach beyond the hopelessness that surrounds us and embrace a lifestyle of emotional abundance and peace!
About Peace for a Lifetime
In my new book, Peace for a Lifetime, I share the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I've discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with herself, God and with others. Through my story and other’s stories you’ll realize that you can experience the life for which you long. You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine. You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow. You can experience peace —for a lifetime!
Peace for a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com.
Book Trailer: https://vimeo.com/155392891