One morning several years ago I read with great sadness that Chuck Connors, who had starred in the black and white TV Western “The Rifleman” had died. I don’t really know why I took it so hard. Maybe it was because the Rifleman had been one of my first heroes. The Rifleman was a man’s man. He always stood up for what was right and he was always on the side of justice. And he always won. No matter how bleak things got for him, he never lost faith in himself, he never gave up. Evil was no match for him and his rifle.
At the end of every show, he would have a talk with his son.
“Son, what did you learn from all of this?”
“Well, Pa,” his son would say “I learned to always do what is right, and stand up for what is right, and then everything will turn out right in the end.”
“That’s right son. Always stick to your guns.”
Well, when we grow up we find out really fast that none of that is easy to do and certainly not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes you cannot tell what is right or what is wrong. For example, does a person who works for an insurance company terminate benefits according to the rules of the plan or should they make an exception for this person because of their tragic circumstances? And if they do it for this person, what about the next person? Right is not always that easy to do or stand up for.
And what about always sticking to your guns? The real world revolves around compromise. If you are to survive in business, politics, or tidlywinks your guns cannot be glued to your hands. You have to learn how to un-stick that gun and give it to someone else. Likewise, no marriage will survive if both partners unyieldingly stick to their guns.
The Rifleman thrived in his world of black and white and offered his son the benefit of his black and white life experiences. But in our real world of varying shades of color, things are not that simple or easy. God did not create easy choices. Moral and ethical choices require thought, prayer, and meditation. Each choice requires deep listening not only to outside voices but to the inward voice of the Holy Spirit.
The Rifleman is dead. Did he ever really exist?
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