The Mexican Standoff

There is a repeating pattern that I have noticed all throughout my life. It is the pattern of forces in opposition.

When you are young, it starts with the whole notion of right and wrong, mostly enforced by your parents in their efforts to help you grow up understanding the difference between the two.

If you are raised by good parents, you will probably grow up to understand these concepts and realize that wrong will get you into some kind of trouble, in your friendships, your schooling, and in some cases, with the law. As you grow, the forces of right and wrong become more nuanced, as you learn that the wrong things you do can cost you a relationship or a job or even a couple of years in jail. The couple of years in jail part is something, fortunately, that the vast majority of us will never experience. The other two are much more common.

Also as we grow there are a number of forces acting on us that were never there before in the sheltered life we lived as kids.

There is the necessity of earning a living so that you can feel independent. There’s the necessity of having a stable relationship, so you can feel loved. And there is the necessity of having a strong moral code so that you can understand the world around you and why things are the way they are.

In a free society, like the one I live in, the individual is, to an ever-increasing degree as he or she grows, responsible for their own life and being their own person. But this is hard work, and some of us, either through the lack of values instilled in us as young people, mostly through the example set by our elders, end up reaching maturity without the moral compass that guides most other people. And what they end up with is a fundamental lack of understanding of the location of the line between right and wrong.

I believe there are a lot of people like that in any given free society. People who have grown up without the nurturing and understanding of parents and family, mainly because there really wasn’t all that much to be had. And so these people drift along, looking for something to believe in because needing that is something that is hardwired into our psyche.

And after that, it’s a roll of the dice. You can find it on either side of the line between right and wrong. And there are lots of people out there who will take you in and convince you that the wrong isn’t really so wrong, but an even truer form of right than what you are walking around believing. And since you don’t know where that line is, and the sales pitch is a good one, designed to make you feel like you are part of something right, you jump in.

And the next thing you know, you are sitting in a room with a whole bunch of other people listening to someone tell you that the cause you are becoming part of is right.  And because you never really had much of a family, to begin with, these people become your brothers and sisters, and these leaders become your surrogate parents.

And that’s how it works. And that’s how you get things like militias and alt-right armies. And that’s how you end up marching on the capital of your country and breaking the windows to get in and take the capital building for your own.

It’s exactly the same on the other side of the right and wrong coin.

The indoctrination is pretty much the same. But the intent is different. The right people want to sign you up to do some good in the world. The wrong people want you to sign up and tear down the democracy that’s already been built, because it is all wrong and needs to be burned to the ground, and the whole process needs to start over again.

But what you have, at the end of the day, is a whole lot of people who believe they are right. And no way to convince each other than they are wrong. If you grew up watching a lot of westerns, this is what is commonly known as a Mexican standoff.

And this is what we are seeing today in America, Everybody’s right and everybody’s wrong. And now that it has been brought kicking and screaming to the surface, it has to be dealt with in a way that will not destroy the country.

At this point in time, I am really not sure what is possible. But I do know that what is going on here has a very strong chance of not ending well. I hope for the best, because I like America, despite its imperialistic nature and its brashness. And it makes me sad to think that so many people in that country are really unhappy with the way things are there.


Jim Murray
Jim Murray
I have been a writer since the age of 14. I started writing short stories and poetry. From there I graduated to writing lyrics for various bands and composers and feature-length screenplays, two of which have been produced. I had a  20-year career in senior positions in Canadian and multi-national agencies and a second career, which began in 1989, (Onwords & Upwords Inc), as a strategic and creative resource. Early in 2020, I closed Onwords & Upwords and effectively retired. I am now actively engaged, through blogging and memes, in showcasing businesses that are part of the green revolution. I am also writing short stories which I will be marketing to film production companies. I live with my wife, Heather, in the beautiful Niagara Region of southern Ontario, after migrating from Toronto, where I spent most of my adult life.

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