Much of the conflict in our culture occurs because people don’t truly “see” one another. They see color, or gender, or class, and then rely on generalizations and stereotypes that may not correspond to the character of the person they are interacting with. This is an outgrowth of political correctness and multi-culturalism, doctrines that have severely undermined the principles of individualism. These destructive doctrinesmust be challenged and few have done so more effectively and with more style than Clint Eastwood, both as a director and an actor.
In The Outlaw Josey Wales, Eastwood takes on the double role of director and actor. The story is set during and immediately after the Civil War when ex-Confederate soldierJosey Wales is wrongly accused of being a renegade. A manhunt for him begins led by a corrupt civil war soldier from the union ranks. As Wales flees and continues to elude the group of former soldiers hunting him down, he slowly picks up a “family” in scenes that vary from poignant to highly amusing.
As the movie moves toward its climax, Wales and his new “family” find the land parcel they have been looking for only to simultaneously discover it is claimed by the local Commanche tribe led by Chief Ten Bears. Wales knows he must ride out to meet the Commanche leader and if unable to come to an agreement with him will almost certainly face death at his hands.
The exchange below occurs as Wales rides out to meet Ten Bears (Note: to view the 3-minute movie trailer of the movie’s climactic scene, click here
o Wales: You’ll be Ten Bears?
o Ten Bears: I am Ten Bears.
o Wales: I’m Josey Wales.
o Ten Bears: I have heard of you. You are the “Gray Rider.” You would not make peace with the blue coats. You may go in peace.
o Wales: Got nowhere to go.
o Ten Bears: Then you will die.
o Wales: I came here to die with you. . . or live with you. Dying ain’t so hard for men like you and me; it’s living that’s hard when all you’ve ever cared about’s been butchered or raped. Government’s don’t live together, people live together. With governments you don’t always get a fair word or a fair fight. Well, I’ve come here to give ya either one. . . or get either one from ya.
I came here like this so you’ll know my word of death is true, and my word of life is then true. The bear live here, the wolf, the Commanche, and so will we. We’ll only hunt what we need to live on; same as the Commanche does. And every spring when the grass turns green and the Commanche moves north, you can rest here in peace, butcher some of our cattle, jerk beef for the journey. . .
o Ten Bears: These things you say we will have; we already have.
o Wales: That’s true. I ain’t promising ya nothing extra. I’m just giving you life and you’re giving me life, and I’m saying that men can live together without butchering one another.
o Ten Bears: It’s sad that governments are chiefed by the “double-tongues.” There is iron in your words of death for all Commanche to see, and so there is iron in your words of life. No signed paper can hold the iron. It must come from men.
The word of Ten Bears carries the same iron of life and death. It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life or death. . . . It shall be life.
This movie left an indelible mark on my mind and emotions, and I suspect that the thousands of others who have enjoyed this film over the years feel similarly. The most important “takeaway” from this movie for me was the ability of Wales and Ten Bears to look past the surficial differences between themselves and look for the spirit within the man facing the other. This is what we need in today’s balkanized culture. It is the first step in curing, hopefully permanently, the curse of political correctness and multi-culturalism, and their ongoing assault on the individual. The great power of film and literature, as well as other forms of art, is their ability to leave indelible “marks” on our minds and emotions that encourage us to return time and again to think about and study their full meaning. And that is a very good thing.
(Note: for another example of two individuals “seeing” beneath the surface to the spirit within, see the Facebook post: “Overcoming Racism with Genuine Brotherhood in the Armed Forces . . . and Elsewhere”