Living by the Code of the West in Minnesota, California, and Arizona
I'm a Western man, and I live by the code. I've only lived three places in my life - Minnesota (the Midwest), California (the West Coast), and Arizona (the Far West). And you may, or may not, live by the Code. The Code of the West may be invisible to you, and it may be something that you think of as only in movies, but it's very real. I'll see if I can explain.
The Code of the West is a chivalry code. That is, it's a set of rules set down by and for gentlemen of honor. It's not a vague set of guidelines like the "Pirate's Code", it's something that men like me live and die for. We don't budge a fraction of an inch on the Code, we'd rather die.
The Code of the West applies only to men. Sorry, I'm not being Chauvinistic here, but if you're not a man, there's no expectation that you need to follow the code. So women don't need to follow the code, nor do boys. Only men.
It starts with an expectation of behavior which doesn't require any type of authority figure to be watching. Men who live by the Code don't have to look over their shoulder for the Sheriff, or be an expert on local laws, they know how to behave. Their behavior far transcends anything that an authority figure would ask of them. They stand tall.
Men who live by the Code are true to their word. They won't say something if they don't mean it. If you're wondering why they go to all of the trouble to something, it's because they said that they would. No excuses, nothing stands in their way. They don't seek conflict, they defend.
Men who live by the Code don't waste their time on fools. They understand that not everyone lives by the Code of the West, and they move on. And they don't expect everyone to live by the Code.
I've lived in the West for a long time, and I've met people who live by the Code. Often they have no idea that they're doing it, it's just "how things are done". It's as invisible to them as the air they breathe. And it's as invisible to people who don't live by the Code, people who lie, and cheat, and steal. People who can't be trusted really can't see the Code, they only look for the Sheriff, to see if they will get caught.
In a long life in the West, I've found that precious few people live by the Code. I do, and I can also recognize people who do. They shine like diamonds in my eyes. They don't need to be wearing a white hat, I recognize them. I tip my hat to them, and if it's you, I tip my hat to you.
Photo at the top of this post: The Superstition Mountains, Apache Junction, Arizona.
Posted by Brad Hall