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This week’s nice thought … February 27, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Musings.

… goes to the Wyoming Legislature, which various accounts relate is heading toward adoption of an addendum to its Ethics Code instilling something called the “Cowboy Code.” The AP piece is here, but the gist is this:

The code would stress the importance of ethics such as living with courage, keeping promises, finishing what you start and saying more by talking less. The bill is a symbolic gesture that carries no criminal penalties and is not meant to replace any civil codes.

Ed Quillen makes all the valid points regarding why this is a grand gesture that points to a “code” that owes more to John Wayne than to reality — 150 years ago or today. Cowboys, of course, are people and they come in all varieties, as do their personal ethics.

But if you are going to brandish any set of ethical mores, this bunch wouldn’t be a bad place to start, I think. They all relate to a core holding of trust and the importance of bonds formed with others, even if they be strangers.

And the reference to courage in this context also connects to the notion of an understanding of where your inner lines are drawn, and around what beliefs, obligations and principles the lines in your inner salt are drawn. Because as the song says, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

I talk a lot in this space about Reds and Blues and my own frustration with the inability today of people running our institutions to get things done efficiently and with grace. I often target politicians and their blog cadres for stridency, posturing and how they otherwise play the game.

Some interpret these thoughts and suggest I am an absolute advocate of compromise and value bipartisanship above all else. But those are just tools or attitudes of those who strive to tackle problems or obstacles with a goal of resolving them in the best fashion possible in order to advance the common good.  I do value and respect people of this ilk, certainly over those who use any and all means to advance or cement their own  interest — personal or collective — without regard to the common good.

But I also respect Cowboys — those who understand their inner ground and have the courage to stand and say I shall retreat no more. I may disagree with them furiously in my own heart, but I respect the courage of conviction.

That said, I also think we all need to re-examine just how widely we have drawn some of those inner circles, because some of us are ready to go to the mattresses over specific questions that are way, way afield from core values. And that’s what leads to ego-driven deadlock. That’s when our points of view start killing our ability to have a civil, illuminating discussion.

I could be wrong.



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