If you're like me, you love to read a good western novel. Louis L'Amour, Zane Grey, and even Elmer Kelton didn't write the kind of books that require a whole lot of thought on the reader's part. Rarely did they even have plots that would have been considered surprising.
But while the western novel may not be considered classic literature, I've always enjoyed them because they usually had a cowboy hero, a battle between good and evil, and the like.
One thing I always admired about the heroes in these novels is that, while they rarely ran away from a fight, they rarely went looking for one, either. These heroes almost always avoided making enemies and, just as importantly, showed impeccable judgment when selecting their enemies.
I often wonder how modern-day cowboys would stack up against this standard. It seems that it's in vogue today to construct false enemies and embrace those who should be considered our enemies.
I doubt I could provoke an argument among cattlemen if I asked them to rank our threats -- whether it be animal rights activists, environmental groups, competing proteins or the other segments within our industry. But there could be a quite serious discussion about whether or not our priorities as an industry have been in alignment with these challenges.
Perhaps the same could be said for the county as a whole, where the upcoming election results somehow seem more important than much larger outcomes. Perhaps we could take a chapter out the great western novels and spend a little time thinking about just whom the true enemies are.
-- Troy Marshall