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The Cowboy Code

As I ran my mid-day errands (post office, feed store, grocery store) I was listening to NPR’s Here and Now and an interesting segment came up when Robin Young interviewed Brent Hathaway, Dean of the College of Business at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.  You can listen to it here if you like, but I’ll summarize it for you.

At the heart of the story, legislators in Wyoming are trying to include “cowboy ethics” to encourage citizens and lawmakers to remember the state’s roots.  The code stresses the importance of living with courage, honesty, sensibility, keeping promises, and upholding your end of the deal.  The code of ethics is symbolic in nature, and holds no penalties for those who do not abide.  The code is taken from a 2004 book, “Cowboy Ethics” by James Owen, in which the code is derived from the book’s “Code of the West.”

The Cowboy Code:
1. Live each day with courage
2. Take pride in your work
3. Always finish what you start
4. Do what has to be done
5. Be tough, but fair
6. When you make a promise, keep it
7. Ride for the brand
8. Talk less, say more
9. Remember that some things are not for sale
10. Know where to draw the line

Reading through the code, and listening to Robin interview Mr. Hathaway, I couldn’t help but find the beauty in the code’s simplicity.  Just like the code dictates in Rule No. 8 “Talk less, say more” the code simplifies the ways to live a good life.

I feel like we live in a very superficial time.  The media runs stories that plays to their advantage, and often the real news is missed.  I’ve gotten to the point that watching the news tires me – it’s full of negativity and outrageous events.  In some respects, it’s nice to be left in the dark.

Our education system is a joke to me, a child’s ability to learn is rated by standardized tests.  I hope my children have the fortune of a good education.  I love the idea of alternative schools, home schooling, and charter schools for that very reason.  I want my child to be able to learn, to be able to freely express themselves, without having to be compared to everyone else.  Be that in academics, athletics, etc.  Children are not taught values in school, and many parents do not teach them either.  I think children understand much more than we believe them to, and if given the chance, they will surprise you.

So many people take no pride in what they do.  They have no idea where the things they want in life come from, what goes into their production, and how it affects the planet’s ecosystem and population.  It’s amazing what a self-centered world this has become.  We’re lazy, and want convenience, even at the risk of our health.  I’m guilty of all of this, I admit.  But every time I hear a story or meet a person who is able to provide for themselves and others, it warms my heart and gives me hope that one day I’ll be the inspiration for someone else trying to find their way.

It’s often a lonely world out there, but it doesn’t have to be.  So I hope you get as much out of the cowboy code as I do.  To me, this code means a lot, but mostly it means hope.

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