The United States is currently going through some tough times. As has been said before, "Tough times don't last, tough people do." Unfortunately, in recent years we as a people have lost a lot of our toughness. We keep handing the control of parts our lives to others, thus, also relinquishing responsibility for our lives.
We didn't become the great country we are today because of our government. Our greatness came about because of the people who have been a part of the development of the United States. Our ancestors were tough people who faced tough times and overcame them.
Some four hundred years ago the Pilgrims arrived on the East Coast. Although Europeans in customs and actions, they were the first pioneers and that coastal area was our first frontier. Over the next four hundred years the United States had a frontier, and as they moved west those Europeans became Americans.
When the frontier was in Ohio, the pioneers learned to build their homes from the abundant trees in the area. Water came from a nearby stream or a shallow well.
Then their grandchildren decided to go to the new frontier. They discovered there were no trees on the western plains. But, grassy sod was abundant. So they built sod homes. For water they found it necessary to dig a well several hundred feet deep. How to get the water to the surface? They came up with windmills.
Not to discount the Star Wars TV series, our last frontier was what we today call the Old West.
From the arrival of the Pilgrims to the closing of the Western Frontier the pioneers had similar characteristics. For survival they needed ingenuity, creativity, and self reliance. Their priorities were faith, family and freedom.
Today it's hard for us to imagine putting all we own in a wagon and heading to an area we have never seen, and facing unbelievable obstacles in order to establish a new life. The pioneers had to be both excited and scared.
After they left the comforts of life, many would have children and other loved ones die. They would endure harsh weather, loneliness, and starvation. But, they endured and survived because they were tough people. Whether one of these pioneers is an ancestor of yours or not, for all of us it was their spirit and their codes of behavior that made us this great country.
Our impression of the Old West is that it was comprised of cowboys and outlaws constantly creating havoc. It's our impression because that's what sells movie tickets, books and magazines. In reality, like today, most of a person's life was spent doing routine, day-to-day activities. But, those routines didn't include hot showers, cold drinks and cars to take then comfortably to department and grocery stores.
We admit that the American West wasn't perfect. We can look back and see injustices that took place. Incidentally, I can assure you that a hundred years from now, people will be looking back on today and talk about the injustices that took place. But, knowing about those injustices will help us make sure we don't repeat them.
During the time of our western frontier the characteristics required for survival began to formalize. And later they received a name…The Code of the West. We believe it was this code, passed verbally and by each person's actions that gave inspiration to the pioneers and settlers of our western frontier.
To give you an idea of what this code is about we have consolidated and updated the precepts into seven basic, to the point statements:
1. Respect yourself & others.
2. Accept responsibility for your life.
3. Be positive & cheerful.
4. Be a person of your word.
5. Go the distance.
6. Be fair in all your dealings.
7. Be a good friend & neighbor.
I'm sure everyone would love to have just one friend who practiced these precepts. Admittedly they are high standards. So, how does one inspire people to commit to them? The best and easiest way is by teaching them through historical examples.
I believe we can all agree that by each of us living by “The Code”, and inspiring others to do so, would not only change our lives individually, it would make major changes throughout the country and maybe even the world.