A Deepening in consideration of the cliche'
"A man's got to do, what a man's got to do"
"You mentioned in one essay, the
phrase "A man's gotta do, what
a man's gotta do." I like how you developed the thought in "The
part refers to the moral imperative: the choice - a man (someone) has
act, or fail before
his/her own conscience. The second part refers to the act needed, which is determined by necessity. One has to do (in order to live with conscience) that which is needed (necessity) to be done."
I found a part of my own experience interweaving in what you wrote - specifically about Ahrimanic influences - which I would like to explore in this email.
As long as God is included in the "Man's gotta do", everything is OK - "I need to follow the moral imperative, as directed by my true conscience, which is connected to God".
Here's how a western would go in that
view, as I envision it: Gunslinger
comes into peaceful Western town and gets his way through fear, by
the regular townsfolk. Hero, who is an ex-gunslinger himself, and
has repented and wept (off-screen) for his deeds, feels the need to
to the Gunslinger level once again. Not enjoying the task of
wounding or imprisoning his brother (since he is a man of God, he knows
all men are his brothers), he nevertheless goes about this distateful
Once he has done away with/captured his wayward brother, he weeps for
he has placed on himself, for the pain of the wound in himself. (He knows "we are one".) (I guess he weeps off-camera again.)
I have no problem with this. This approach is whole, not turning from God.
The difficulty is with a "Take it into my own hands" approach. This is the feeling I get from most Westerns similar to the one described above:
The townsfolk are wimpy, or "scared,
ordinary folks". The Hero
is tough and battle-scarred. He is tired of fighting, yet he goes
out to help his town, to defend it from evil. The Hero doesn't
to consider "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do" to be like this:
man who is connected to his and other's value has to do what his sense
of Truth requires of him, in order for him to
stay true to himself." (which is similar to your description above) but more like this: "Even though the people of the town have rejected me (for being a gunslinger), I know how to deal with this, so I will." The action almost seems like a reflex, in a way...(this will be revisited below)
The interaction is kept on a human
level, yet something mystic seems
to occur - an illustration of good conquering evil. But the tools
that "good" uses to conquer evil are the tools of the evil! The
- killing - is the focus, not healing, or maybe a failure of an attempt
at healing. Admittedly, the Gunslinger uses fear as a weapon, and
the Hero does not. In this way they do, indeed, differ. For some
reason, the townsfolk usually paint the Gunslinger and the Hero with
same brush... the Hero being kind of outcast for having been a former
Are they wrong in this? I think they are wrong in casting anyone
out, but not wrong in considering the two similar. Consider....
How are the forces of good and evil different?
I have been working on an image for years to try to bring what I perceive into something that can be communicated. Though this falls short, it is the best so far:
The weapons of evil would be similar to those found on an earthly battlefield. Guns, bombs, grenades, etc. The focus is on using, on forcing, on making it be MY WAY. Anything that works suddenly, forcefully, and decisively to FINISH IT. To make the point and END IT. I say what I have to say, and a bullet is my punctuation mark. Either I make it so you can never argue with me (dead), or I try to make it so that you will be too afraid to argue with me (slave). My weapon is mostly fear, but I back it up with that which hurts and maims and kills.
Notice that each of the words in brackets are nouns. Evil considers a person as a thing, a resource; an object to be used or disposed of.
The weapons of good are similar to medicine. Not so much as in a hospital as what one would find at a "sanatorium" - where the grounds are spacious, natural, and inviting. The focus is on growth, on understanding, on creating or building. Anything that bridges differences truly, no matter how circuitous or time-consuming the path. To make a point and then receive. I say what I have to say, and then hold your response so that it can be brought into harmony with your true being. An inquiring, interested smile is my punctuation mark. I hold you so that you can integrate (heal), I try to make it so that you do no harm (hold), I try to make you aware of your prison/wounds with the intent of cooperative healing (to free). My weapon is mostly love, in which I use wisdom, truth, knowledge - whatever cleans and heals.
Notice that each of the words in brackets are verbs. Good knows what a person is, and that a person is in transition to another state of being.
So the Hero and the Gunslinger, where do they fall when we consider their weapons?
Why do we consider the Hero "Good" when he uses the weapons of Evil?
Because he hasn't fully fallen, I think. What you have described as the moral imperative is present in the Hero. He has fallen and is stained, but he has "a good heart". He contains both the Good and the Evil, in that he is working with his moral imperative (One has to do... *good*) but the action which he has chosen in order to carry out that moral imperative has been twisted by his own dark past (...that which is needed. *evil*).
Yes, he has good within him, and yet he has forgotten how to use the weapons of the Good.
Here is another perspective, using a
bunch of assumptions:
To be a gunslinger means to have a certain bloodlust. To own a gun and practice "the draw" for an eventual showdown requires bloodlust also, but possibly to a lesser degree - fear of a gunslinger could be the motive, too. However, in the Old West mentality, things were not integrated, they were subdued or tamed. The Indians were not embraced. Wilderness was there to be turned into farmland. Horses were "broken" before they could be ridden. So given these statements, how would a gunslinger become an ex-gunslinger? By suppressing, conquering, the ignoble aspects within - by severing the bloodlust or fear from his character. Given that, the Hero's reaction ("A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do") could be expressed as kind of a reflex: "A man has to go out and suppress in the world what he has suppressed in himself."
This being the case, we can certainly admire his fortitude, his strength of will, and his resoluteness.
We would be wrong, however, to admire this person's compassion and trust in God.
Yes, there is a point at which an individual must act. To act because one doesn't see God doing anything, however, is to try to do things better than God, to try to "play God" oneself.
Let's see how our Hero (let's call him
"Hero") might act if he has integrated
the "gunslinger" aspect into himself, if he has wept at the shame and
of having killed, if he has cried out and shared with God the fear and
selfishness that drove him to be what he was. Hero would have "embraced
his inner gunslinger", so to speak. So when Gunslinger arrives in
town, what would be Hero's first impulse? "Here is a man who is
I once was. Is he healable, as I once was? Can he be
integrated into our community?" Hero would head over to the local
saloon (the "truce turf" of Westerns, replacing the function of
as neutral ground - 'cause a gunslinger wouldn't go to church, now
he?). Once there, he would attempt to make friends with
likely in the style of AA - "hey, I remember that - you do this trick,
too?", "You keep an extra loaded gun in the saddlebags, just in case,
Yeah, I used to do that, too." Having embraced his "inner
Hero would know that the root cause of that personality is fear.
Gently, he tries to get Gunslinger to admit to his fear, probably on a
long walk or while they're out shooting up bottles at the ranch.
If Gunslinger is able to admit to it, he's on his way to being
If he can't, and keeps up his demands and works to rule the town with
he needs to be imprisoned so he doesn't hurt anyone. If he
too much, he would probably end up dying. Then Hero would go and weep for the loss of so much potential and pray for his soul.
Maybe not the best movie, but I think that's more like how it would play out.
What do you think? "
the author of the above commentary has presently chosen to remain anonymous
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