When my daughter Erin was in fourth grade, she brought this math problem, xeroxed from a textbook, home from Mr. Gustafson’s class:
SHOOT OUT ON MAIN STREET
Fumble Fingers Freddy Farnsworth and Cross-Eyed Carl Crosswhile had been feuding for a year or so. It started over a chance remark Carl made about Freddy’s no-goood dog, Lester. Freddy was sitting near Carl in the Ace High Tavern with his girl friend, Esther. Freddy misunderstood Carl’s comment, partly because Elbows Chopin was making so much noise at the piano and partly because Carl was looking at the dog and Esther at the same time. Matters became worse and finally they declared a showdown.
At high noon Carl and Freddy stood 30 feet apart in the middle of Rocky Gorge’s Main Street. A crowd gathered. Sheriff Dan Outright stood directly between them and counted to three. On the count of three Carl started blazing away. His first shot put a hole in Amos Tinsley’s new hat ($12); the second passed through Mona DeMona’s open window and killed her parakeet, Trudy ($10); and his third plugged a gold watch ($52) in the window ($8) of Jerry’s Jewelry Shop. By now Freddy, slowest gun in the West, was ready. He first shot the toe off his own boot ($24), then nicked Jenny Ramsbottom’s left arm ($5 doctor bill), and finally hit Slade Stackpole right between the eyes. Slade was in jail at the time, waiting to be hanged for stealing a horse, and was watching through the bars. Sheriff Outright said that Freddy’s shot saved the government $25 in meals and rope.
Both men were satisfied that their honor had been upheld and went to the Ace High Tavern for a celebration.
What did the duel cost Rocky George? Was Sheriff Outright a wise man?
Erin was perplexed and, I recall, a bit distraught over the death of Trudy the parakeet. So I took out a piece of paper and dashed off this reply to Mr. Gustafson:
What did the deal cost Rocky Gorge?
Nothing. Individual citizens may have had to shell out a few bucks for new hats and parakeets and what not, but who was the beneficiary of these repairs and sales? Why, the town of Rocky Gorge, of course. Unless, that is, if Amos Tinsley rode his horse fifteen miles to the neighboring town of Galt’s Gulch to get his hat repaired. But would Amos have done this. I think not, since his brother’s wife’s best friend’s sister had just opened a new store, “Hattie’s Hat Repair.” In addition to the basic economic principle presented above, one must also take into consideration the karmic cost of taking a human life, not to mention a parrot’s as well. Yes, Freddy may celebrate the shooting of Slade Stackpole by knocking back a few shots of Jack Daniels, but he cannot escape the divine retribution that will balance the scales of cosmic justice. Perhaps in his next incarnation, Freddy will himself be shot and killed by a stray bullet. Or, worse yet, perhaps he will be given an outrageous math problem by his fourth-grade teacher, who, of course, would be the reincarnation of Slade Stackpole. In summary, the cost to Rocky Gorge may be staggering or it may be nothing, depending on one’s spiritual beliefs.
Was Sheriff Outright a wise man?
No. Wisdom comes from a commitment to reality at all costs. Since Sheriff Outright is a fictional character, the answer is most assuredly no.
I believe Mr. Gustafson awarded Erin an A on this assignment.
ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?
Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier
Here is a two-minute video introduction to Through God’s Eyes.
• an overview of the book
• the complete table of contents
• the Foreword by Caroline Myss
• my Introduction
• chapter excerpts
• a sample end-of-chapter story
• endorsements from authors and thought leaders
Just click on the link below to download your free PDF sampler!
THROUGH GOD’S EYES PDF SAMPLER
Schedule a Mastery Mentoring phone session with Phil to learn how to apply principles of spiritual living more effortlessly and effectively. Priced affordably! Click here to e-mail Phil for details.
Phil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent people he interviewed, including Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford, Dr. Larry Dossey, Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, Caroline Myss, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, James Van Praagh, singer Billy Vera, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, and bassist Victor Wooten.
Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories. Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers. Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.
Sixty Seconds was one of three finalists in the General Interest/How-To category at the 12th annual Visionary Awards presented by COVR (Coalition of Visionary Resources) in Denver on June 27, 2009.