A reminder of kinder, gentler times


By Betty J. Slade | PREVIEW Columnist

It seems to me people are wound up like an eight-day clock. The hands are spinning out of control. Overextended, no time for God, no time to be cordial with pleasantries. Today there seems to be an edge on everything and everyone. As a people, have we moved away from God and his principles?

A news commentator said, “This country is drowning in anger. There is a lack of civility and respect for human beings.” 

Evil blasts in our faces, and we normalize it. On the streets and in sports events, anger prevails.

I remember kinder and gentler times. I can’t believe I’m saying that when those days were hard and challenging. But the people were kinder and gentler. They seemed to have a compass of right and wrong, loved their friends, and lent a helping hand to their neighbors. Have we moved away from decency and what is really important in our lives? 

Writing a fictional series about a country family in Pagosa is of importance to me. I wanted to show a man’s word and handshake could be trusted and were enough. Everyone works to make a home a better place. I hope to leave this series for my family as a reminder, about right and wrong, good families, and homelife. They’re worth fighting for and caring about.

I miss those homespun years of soup on the stove, children leaping off the school bus, laughing, running and rolling down the hill. Living was as clean as the mountain air we breathed.

A series on Amazon Prime, the “Ultimate Cowboy Showdown,” brought these gentler ideas into focus and was refreshing. The cowboy way was more than roping, cutting cattle and driving them hard down from the mountain. It was a test of real men and how they dealt with others. These cowboys were rambunctious, unrestrained and rowdy, but when the hard day’s work was over, they had an inner respect and sense of uprightness toward their family and the people around them.

On the program, the cowboys had manners, politeness, and spoke not one foul word or sexual innuendos. Their core was truly kinder and gentler even if their outer presence was rough and not polished. “Yes, sir.” “Yes, ma ‘am” It was refreshing. We enjoyed a series without dodging F-words and turning off the television.

Life has become so crass, lacking refinement and intelligence. The world has moved over to the ugliness of human nature. We are appalled at how people act.

This show showcased the cowboy way. The code of the West. Curiously, I researched the number of working ranch cowboys. I thought the life of a cowboy, ranch worker and farmer was a dying breed. I was surprised; they estimated 600,000 cowboys, and about one-third are women.

Real cowboys mean living the ranching lifestyle, not just looking the part with cowboy boots and sporting a Stetson. They are part of the true fabric of our country.

The show represented cowboys from across the United States. They competed to win $50,000 worth of cattle and ranch equipment and of course a lifetime of bragging rights. The host, Trace Atkins, and a panel of experts judged the skills, knowledge, grit and passion of 14 cowboys. They came as horse wranglers, cowpunchers and cowhands, even a buckaroo.

As my Sweet Al and I listen in our daily lives to injustice, corruption, and abomination against God, we can’t believe what life has become. These criminal activities are normalized. What has happened to us?

As we discuss the breakdown and destruction around us, we are amazed that our own marriage and family have held to their principles, like the cowboys portrayed on the Amazon series. Not without a lot of ups and downs, we’ve been thrown around like a shiny metal ball in a pinball machine. We’ve hit bumpers as we came down the slanted board, only to meet with flippers that bounced us back to the top.

Those bumpers, like godly principles and ethics, are in the way to slow us down. The flippers have tossed us from one side to another. We haven’t fallen to the bottom and called the game over. We didn’t jump the wall but stayed in the confines of the marriage. We plan to stay in the game until we run out of quarters.

Final brushstroke: Life has thrown us and others’ marriages and families in every direction. My friends say they also miss those gentler times. We’ve hunkered down and held on to each other and our faith. We must refuse to drown in the anger of today’s society. God is still in charge.

Send your comment to bettyslade.author@gmail.com.

Views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN.