I’ve been scratching my head an awful lot, wondering where so many men I run into today get their their notion of this real America. They seem proud of their ignorance, disrespectful of knowledge, skill, or craft, contemptuous of women, and suspicious of anyone different. That’s not the America I know or have ever known. So I went looking for the source of their America.
Louis L’Amour is the quintessential writer of American stories since the 20th century. His stories are simple tales of good and evil. Of the American frontier. Self-reliance. Strength. Courage. Surely I would find the real America in his novels. So I read a few.
Here are some excerpts from The Warrior’s Path, the third novel in the Sackett series, narrated by Kin Ring Sackett, circa the 1620’s.
This one is about the value of intelligent women:
“Beautiful,” I said quickly. “And sensitive, but she thinks. She has a good mind, and excellent mind. And far beyond her years in good sense.”
He chuckled suddenly and I did not know why, but he glanced at me slyly. “It is not often I hear a young man comment on a woman’s mind.”
“She is worthy of comment for her beauty,” I replied stiffly, “but among us a woman’s mind is important. On the frontier a man and his wife are two. They work beside each other. To survive the two must work as one, sharing thoughts as well as work. It is not the same, I hear, in the cities of Europe.”
This one is about religious tolerance:
It may have been my father’s easy way with folks, or perhaps my mother’s way or Lila’s or the teachings of Sakim, but I was not one for believing all who believed not as I to be therefore heathens. Many are the paths to righteousness, and ours, I think, is but one.
This opinion of women is presented by a man one generation older than Kin Ring Sackett, a sea captain:
“Give me always a woman with pride, and pride of being a woman.”
In the novel Flyboys, James Bradley describes the inhuman machismo of Japanese soldiers as a charade of traditional Bushido culture. That’s what we’re experiencing today, I believe, among some of our brothers: a charade of American culture. A parody of American values. A farce of American manhood.
We’re a free country. You have the right to be a fraud and a fake, but don’t hold yourself up as an example of a real American male.