After submitting last week’s article, I received numerous compliments and bids of “good luck” as I embarked upon this ethics campaign. I felt as though I had reached-out to the audience, and I had a newfound and suddenly increased optimism that people would be receptive to an ethics overhaul in the Arkansas Valley. I would like to personally thank readers for their correspondence and input, and hope you will continue to enjoy and learn from The Code of the West.


After submitting last week’s article, I received numerous compliments and bids of “good luck” as I embarked upon this ethics campaign. I felt as though I had reached-out to the audience, and I had a newfound and suddenly increased optimism that people would be receptive to an ethics overhaul in the Arkansas Valley. I would like to personally thank readers for their correspondence and input, and hope you will continue to enjoy and learn from The Code of the West.

    In recent weeks, we have all read and heard the name Tebow on a fairly continual basis. Since leading the Broncos to a near-comeback against the San Diego Chargers last fall, Tim Tebow has developed into a national icon. Mr. Tebow has held his head high through wins and losses alike. Faced with much public scrutiny, a moderately unsteady season, and above all else, the preservation of his own morals, Tim Tebow continually shows that he is strong, well-grounded and extremely faithful in the greater good. So often, we see professional athletes display such vulgar behavior. It’s no wonder our youth have veered off course with the influence of many of the “role models” of today. While many other professional athletes are caught up in scandals, drugs, and other mischievous activities, Tim Tebow continues to walk the straight-and-narrow, proving to be one of the greatest role models of all time.

    Earlier this week, I found myself troubled after hearing community members recollect on how poorly some of the athletes in this valley behave during games. Although I will not specify names or locations, I will examine the situation itself as a prime example of wayward behavior, and a lack of respect and conservative principles. While attending a local high school basketball game, I was dismayed to see one of the student athletes spike a ball into the audience in an act of rage after being penalized. After committing this repulsive act, common sense and moral custom would suggest that the student-athlete should have been immediately reprimanded for his/her actions. However, to my consternation, the coaches and administrative staff allowed the student to remain in the game. Sadly, this is not the only example that I was provided with in the past week. There are many more, and they keep occurring.

Too often, parents also partake in the childish acts of abhorrence towards competing teams. Do people not realize that they represent the institutions to which they belong when they are at these games? Many students, coaches, educators and parents work extremely hard to create positive programs in their communities, yet allow a few bad eggs to spoil the whole batch. In light of recent events, I know without a doubt that the first of the Principles of the Week that I should elaborate on is Ride for the Brand.

Ride for the Brand is my personal favorite of the principles. It is often the most difficult principle for people to interpret and understand. So, what exactly does it mean? And, how can readers apply it to their own lives?

In the days of the Old West, once a cowboy threw his bedroll into an outfit’s wagon, he was expected to put its needs before his own. Through all hardship, disaster and turmoil, a cowboy was ultimately responsible for the protection of the outfit. He not only worked for his trail boss, but also his trail boss’s name and the brand worn by his cattle. A good cowboy realized that he represented something much larger than himself, and would always put the wellbeing of the outfit before his own. I used Mr. Tim Tebow earlier as a primary example of someone who truly represents something greater than himself. He wears the Broncos’ uniform proudly, and is obedient and faithful to GOD. All around, we see people “Tebowing.” Some have scrutinized it; others have been inspired by it. But, what would we rather have people doing, “Tebowing,” or following the lead of shoddier examples of “role models?” Give Tebow a hat and some cattle, and I’d say you’ve got yourself one hell of a cowboy. A good cowboy didn’t ride for himself or the money he would earn; a good cowboy would Ride for the Brand. Simply put, “They were intensely loyal to the outfit they were working for and would fight to the death for it. They would follow their wagon boss through hell and never complain.” [“TEDDY BLUE” ABBOTT, We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher (1939)]

Ride for the Brand challenges us on numerous levels. All too often, employees put their own needs before that of the company’s; the very company that offers them a JOB. We also see, as aforementioned, athletes and coaches placing a victory higher on the priority list than representing their teams in a positive manner. Another distinct example of a need for people to “Ride for the Brand” exists in the marital scene. For whatever reason, many people are all-too-willing to place their own needs and wants before their spouse’s and the institution that is their marriage. Folks, it’s easy to see that this principle is an important one. Challenge yourselves this week to embrace the important institutions in your life. Dare to be stand up for what is best for your company, your school district, your team, your marriage, or whatever institutions you belong to. Challenge others to stick to an ethical code as well. If you see someone acting poorly, put them in their place. Allowing someone else to destroy your institution is just as bad as doing it yourself. YOU are the ones who will make the difference; I’m just the messenger. no limitations. Ride hard, ride proud, and Ride for the Brand.

Anyone that has watched the news, read local papers, or “chewed the fat” at their local coffee shop this week has learned of the cruise ship that sank off the coast of Italy. In the midst of all of the havoc, the ship’s skipper was able to abandon ship and ride a life boat safely ashore; even before his crew and many passengers. He is now known as, “Captain Coward.” This is just one example of a coward’s actions leading to the loss of life, property, and the decline of ethics in society. The event has prompted me to appoint Live Each Day with Courage our second Principle of the Week.

    “A man wanting in courage would be as much out of place in a cow-camp as a fish on dry land. Indeed the life he is daily compelled to lead calls for the existence of the highest degree of cool, calculating courage.” [Texas Livestock Journal (1882)]

    Cowboys have always been known to be the roughest and toughest breed of human-being, and there’s certainly a good reason for it. Cowboys awoke each morning not knowing what their day might entail, but they were eager to get to it. Cowboys faced perils such as stampedes, raging rivers, wild Indians and cattle rustlers; but they worked eagerly every day so they could live the life of a cowboy and earn eighty-or-so cents a day. Despite that, they were given no special recognition by the boss or their fellow cowboys. Courage was only part of the job, and cowards were never tolerated; one coward could endanger the whole group.

    Cowards exist all around us; they may even slightly exist in . I challenge you to examine your internal fortitude this week, and crush whatever coward may exist in you. Live Each Day with Courage, not because it’s cool, but because it is right. up to the cowards around you as well. There is no room in society for cowards, and this is becoming increasingly evident every day.

    I hope that readers will not take-lightly the lessons taught this week. Clearly, the manner in which some people act in our area is unacceptable, and needs proper attention brought to it. In my opinion, much of the negativity we see could be avoided by teaching these basic, core principles to our youth. I truly believe that the majority of the “bad kids” in our valley are reflections of a bad home-life and poor role-models; whether they are their parents, television stars, professional athletes or whomever, they are trashing the ethical minds of our youth. Please do not ignore my request for action. Make it your personal mission to positively influence those around you, and reprimand the wrong.

    As a side note this week, I would like to announce an event that Fowler FFA is humbled to be helping conduct. There are few people who can truly say they’ve lived each day with the courage that is portrayed by cancer patients in this world. There are so many families that have been or are being affected by cancer in this valley. Fowler FFA is honored to assist in a benefit dinner for Mrs. Elaine White to be held this Saturday, January 28, in the Fowler Jr. High School Gymnasium. Mrs. White and her husband, Larry, and their children have played pivotal roles in our community for many years. Dinner will be served from 6:30-8:30 p.m., prize drawings at 8:30 p.m., and a dance to follow from 9-midnight. Dinner tickets cost $10 ($5 for seniors and students) and may be purchased from Red Top Wine and Liquor in Fowler, Jack’s Grocery in Fowler, or any Fowler High School Girls’ Basketball members. Chances for the drawings are $5, and items include a flat screen TV, a laptop, numerous gift certificates, and many beautifully handcrafted items. This event is a great opportunity to support a great cause and have fun doing it. Please show the White family how generous and supportive the people of the Arkansas Valley can be by attending this benefit dinner. Again, please watch for announcements for Fowler FFA’s events, and plan to attend some of these events. Supporting your local FFA chapters should be viewed as an investment in the future of the Arkansas Valley, as we are developing tomorrow’s leaders in agriculture, and creating hope and promise of a more prosperous tomorrow. Remember, agricultural sustainability in the region means economic growth and stability throughout the valley for years to come.

If you would like more immediate information about Cowboy Ethics, or would like to view other books written by Mr. James P. Owen, please visit www.cowboyethics.org, home of the Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the betterment of society through ethical beliefs. Thank you so much for viewing this week’s edition of The Code of the West; Alive and Well in the Ark Valley, and remember to watch for us next week!