Friday 30 Sep 2016

Measure of a Man
AJ Robinson

Movies with a Western theme have never been my thing. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of western movies I love and most of those are John Wayne films. Such movies are just not my thing.

I’ve never even seen “The Magnificent Seven,” which is a classic; I have seen portions of this movie, though. Now, I’ve seen “Seven Samurai,” which was the basis for the former. It’s equally a classic.

One scene, from “Magnificent,” in particular stands out. Charles Bronson is working on his gear, getting ready for the upcoming battle and a group of Mexican boys come to him. One of the boys complains about his father, their fathers, he calls all of them cowards and he wishes they were brave like Bronson. The reaction, of the Bronson character, is quite surprising.


He grabs the boy, pulls him across his knee and spanks him.

Once he releases the boy, he tells all of them that their fathers are very brave. He says that they have a kind of bravery that he can never know. He’s not strong enough to achieve it, ever.

Their fathers are brave enough to do what’s right. They care for their wives and children. They work hard every day at grueling backbreaking work and do so without complaint. They do it to be good fathers and husbands; we ignore what they do, too often.

These words resonated inside my head just the other day, following yet another mass shooting. This one was different though, this was the mass shooting of police officers. What struck me, oft the sorry episode, was a little detail that appeared after it was over.

During the initial protest, which was a response to two Black men shot by police officers, in two different incidents across the country, there were several men openly carrying firearms. Now, as the protest was in Dallas, when open carry is legal. Texas has an open carry law, so the men were well within their legal rights to do so.

Over the years, advocates for gun rights repeatedly have said that we need to loosen gun control laws. Their argument has always been the old: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Following that logic, we should let law-abiding citizens walk around with any sort of gun they want, any time they want, and anywhere they want!

Well, that’s what these men, in the Dallas demonstration, were doing. Again, if you follow the logic of advocates of gun rights, the solution if obvious. When the gunman started shooting, those men should have been right there with the police officers firing back.


Here’s the thing, they didn’t.

No, when the shooting started, the men ran for cover just like everyone else. Not only that, those opening carrying guns got in the way, as the police sought the shooter. They didn’t know who was doing it and thus anyone with a gun and not in uniform was suspect.

Thus, those openly carrying guns were a distraction for police. They were an actual detriment to the efforts of the police, as they tried to protect innocent lives.

That’s when I thought about the scene, in “The Magnificent Seven,” featuring Charles Bronson. A real man does what’s right, not merely what’s legal. A real man does what’s best for his community and helps the police force protect people and maintain law and order, and he doesn’t need a gun to be a part of the process.

All he needs is to be a man.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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