High Noon

How many of you have seen the movie High Noon from 1952? I watched it recently and its powerful message resonated with me.

Gary Cooper stars as retiring Marshal Will Kane and Grace Kelly as his new wife Amy. The opening scene shows them being married and leaving town and onto the next chapter of their lives. Marshal Kane has done his job in the small town and cleaned out a vicious gang of killers and thieves who held the town in captivity.

But, as they are leaving town, the gang returns to town, with three of the four waiting for the fourth, their leader, to arrive by train at high noon. On hearing of the outlaws return, Kane turns their wagon back towards town against the pleading of his new wife to “let it go … you’ve done enough.” Kane returns because it is the right thing to do, even though his life will be in extreme jeopardy as the gang seeks revenge on him.

Kane seeks the help of the towns people, but is rejected at every turn with the usual array of excuses, and ultimately faces the gang single handedly and defeats them with the help  of his Quaker wife who kills one of the outlaws as he is about to shoot her husband in the back.

The townspeople return to the street as the last of the outlaws lies dead in the street. In dramatic fashion, Marshal Kane looks disdainfully over the crowd of townspeople, takes off his badge and throws it down in the dirt in front of the people. The Marshall and his wife then ride out of town once more to a new life and the movie ends.

This story resonates with me personally because of a stand I took in the late 1990s and into the early 2000s. A stand against waste, fraud and abuse in the Navy project I was working on, and in which I was an unwilling participant trying to do the right thing. In this stand, which spanned more than three years and had a potential of roughly $1,000,000 in wasted funds, I was very much alone, much like Marshal Kane. Unlike Marshal Kane, my life was not on the line, but my job certainly was.

This was not an insignificant project, and I recall one program meeting where I counted some 38 participants with the title “engineer” associated with a job  description. These folks were a mix of Civil Service and civilian contractors, and not one could see the folly of the project or step up to challenge it.  The fact that the project was wasteful and folly was demonstrated when it finally collapsed of its own weight and we successfully continued the larger containing project  with a design based on sound engineering and not politics.

I guess it was that episode that steeled me to speak out and stand up for the right and against the wrong, and eventually resulted in this blog. But it has taken an emotional toll and I am emotionally drained.

Dr. Ben Carson is a man of recent prominence who reminds me a great deal of Marshall Kane. A man who rose from extreme childhood poverty to the heights of his medical profession as the chief pediatric neurosurgeon  at Johns Hopkins University and has recently announced his retirement. And like the good Marshal, Dr. Carson is not going quietly into the night but is speaking out on the issues of the day, and is receiving considerable flak for doing so, including his removal as commencement speaker at his own Johns Hopkins medical school. His crime? Speaking out in favor of marriage as a committed union of one man and one woman … a union quite like the one that perhaps we each have, and a union like most we all know of, and a union common throughout recorded history. Yet Dr. Carson, and you and I, are now suddenly bigots.

It remains to be seen how much damage will be inflicted on Dr. Carson by those whose views are in opposition to the doctor’s

A friend and I were discussing the movie High Noon the other day, and my friend shared with me the plight of his wife who has taken a stand at her place of work. She works in the deli department of a major supermarket and has discovered that the store is using expired products in the making of deli sandwiches. She has brought this practice to the attention of management, and as a result she is in danger of losing her job, as management and her co-workers are apparently lining up against her. One of the co-workers has even leveled the charge of anti-gay comments from my friends wife. 

Thus far this lady is standing tall in her commitment to do the right thing, but she is standing alone.

The liberal left has found a powerful weapon in the labeling of opponents as bigots, and they are using this weapon in a continued cultural war against those of us who would disagree with them.

Take a lesson from Marshall Will Kane, and be willing, if reluctantly, to publically stand for what is right and against that which is wrong.

Don Johnson – April 2013


5 responses to “High Noon

  1. The following essay makes my point in a compelling way and I encourage you to read it.
    ‘Gay marriage’ and the breakdown of moral argument
    By Father Robert Barron *

  2. Ronald Vander Griend

    “The reason why people are never satisfied with material success, no matter how prosperous they may be, is because we are not physical beings. Sure, we have arms and legs and we are subject to the laws of the physical world, but at our core, that’s not who we are. At our core, we are souls.

    We tend to think of ourselves as physical beings that sometimes have spiritual experiences. But the truth is that we are really spiritual beings, and we are here having a physical experience for the span of a lifetime.

    This is why material objects will never fill our needs. As spiritual beings, we have spiritual needs that no amount of money in the world can fill. If we want to feel fully satisfied in our lives, then we have to know what we need. Our deepest needs are not physical. We crave things like purpose, love, and a relationship with God.”

    The words above are in quotations because they are not my words but I am in total agreement with them. Chasing worldly satisfaction is like chasing Wiley Coyote. Oh – we can have fleeting moments of satisfaction with worldly success even if it is not honest or selfish in nature. We can even mask the truth with drugs and/or alcohol for a while.
    However true satisfaction comes when do recognize we are spiritual beings and doing the righteous thing brings an inner peace that can not be given to you by any worldly success or material thing. Steve Jobs, I am sure understands this by now. Even Solomon did not recognize his best wisdom until shortly before his death. At that time he recognized all in life is vanity except those things done for the God who loves him.

  3. I know of what you speak about Don. I too was a federal employee and almost lost my job (I believe if I hadn’t been a GM-14 at the time, I would have). I had been out-maneuvered politically and had been “temporarily” moved out of my position as Head of the Maintenance Department to Management Officer. While in my “temporary” (which turned out to be permanent) job I had heard of a bartender that had been hired as a transportation driver at San Clemente Island. The SCI Maintenance Director hadn’t asked for another driver and the individual who had been “temporarily” placed in my position had waived this persons physical examination. (He had failed the first examination) I asked for his personnel file. Not being his immediate Department Head (legally I was), I hadn’t the authority to see his file. I discovered everything I had been told were true. The ex-bartender had been promised a job in civil service by my “relief”. When I took it to the lead civilian he said he “would look into it”. That afternoon I was visited by the Personnel Department Head and was advised I was in “big trouble” for reviewing the personnel file of someone who wasn’t in my (Management) Department. I was almost fired. The driver and the Department Head who illegally hired the driver? Nothing was done. I was labeled as “The Moral Leader” and was ridiculed by fellow department heads. (It was time to retire. I did and took advantage of the VSIP program by eliminating my position and department. All my employees were re-assigned and did not lose their jobs.) I felt as Marshall Kane and am also a fan of that movie. Ron

  4. A hearty welcome to Deputy Marshal Shipley in Marshal Kane’s posse, an honor to have you here..

  5. Any other budding Deputy Marshals out there?

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