The Alamo – 1960. Directed by John Wayne with a star-studded cast. It was a smash-hit movie, winning Oscars and other awards. See The Alamo Awards
I watched it as I would any other movie and was impressed: a historical event immortalised in film. It was decades later, while I was watching a replay, that one scene struck me forcefully.
Davy Crockett, a frontiersman, soldier and politician from Tennessee, walked away from the battle; it was not his fight. But he changed his mind.
He and his girlfriend, Graciela Carmela Maria ‘Flaca’ de Lopez y Vejar, were standing under a magnificent oak tree, huge and expansive, on the bank of a beautiful river.
The real Davy Crockett. Portrait by Chester Harding
DAVY’S riverside speech
“You know something, Flaca? I guess I saw who-knows-how-many trees before I ever took a long, thoughtful look at them. Mostly, I looked at a tree to see was there a bear in it or an Indian behind it.”
FLACA: Davy, what’s going to happen to us? I mean, to you and me.
“I’m going to tell you something, Flaca, and I want you to listen tight. May sound like I’m talking about me, but I’m not. I am talking about you. As a matter of fact, I am talking about all people everywhere.
When I come down here to Texas, I was looking for something. I didn’t know what. It seems like you adds up my life and I spent it all either stompin’ other men, or in some cases getting stomped. I had me some money and had me some medals. And none of it seemed a lifetime worth of pain of the mother that bore me. It was like I was empty. Well, I’m not empty any more. That’s what’s important.
To feel useful in this ole world. To hit a lick against what’s wrong or to say a word for what’s right, even though you get walloped for saying that word.
Now, I may sound like a Bible-beater yelling up a revival at a river-crossing camp meeting. But that don’t change the truth none. There is right and there’s wrong. You gotta do one or the other. You do the one and you’re livin. You do the other and you may be walkin’ around, but you’re as dead as a beaver in a hat.”
It was enthralling
I watched this scene over and over and again and again, and it became deeply personal. Several things struck me. I often share my experiences, but, as with Davy, it is never about me. It’s “about you. It’s about all people everywhere”. It is what we can learn from shared experiences. How we can improve the world. How we can grow.
I have always “hit a lick against what’s wrong” and as a consequence, have been stomped on myself. Often. Figuratively by verbal attacks and literally by physical assault. Once, when I was discussing laying charges and suing for defamation, my attorney advised: “Peter, you are who you are. You do what you do. By this you become a target, and people will take pot-shots at you.”
This scene further confirmed that I do not want to be “walking around, but be dead as a beaver in a hat”. I want to LIVE LIFE to the full.
A credo for action
That penultimate paragraph continues to be a credo for my life. Doing a little good in this old world, hitting a lick against what’s wrong and standing up for what is right, is important. More than that: it is vital.
I exhort all men to do the same. STAND and be seen. SHOUT and be heard. Fight against wrongs. Don’t just talk – ACT. Fight against the abuse of women, including rape, all physical and psychological violence, and all wrongs. It is worth the risk of a wallop and you will never feel empty. Live your LIFE.
PS: I exhort all women to do the same. Thankfully, many of you already do.
I distilled it into this Philosophy for Life: “Affect at least one person’s life in a positive way, Every Day“. I make sure that I apply it.
If you have such Moments in Movies that have affected your life, please let me know. I would love to share them with our readers. Perhaps your experiences will inspire us all.
To watch the scene of Davy’s riverside speech click here
My thanks to Kay Johnstone for knocking my scribblings into shape