The classic western High Noon
— in my opinion the best western film ever made — tells the story of a town marshal who, as he is getting ready to leave town with his new bride and start a new life elsewhere, gets word that a notorious outlaw Frank Miller is coming to town.
Instead of riding out of town, Marshal Will Kane stays, hoping to defend the town against Miller and his cohorts. The townspeople — and even his own deputy — abandon Kane, leaving him to defend the town on his own. It’s great story of honor, integrity, dedication, duty — as well as cowardice and mob mentality.
The last time I watched High Noon
was around the same time I head about how some miscreants did significant damage to the fragile and ancient sandstone in Arches National Park in Utah. They had carved their names and other things into the sandstone, causing irreparable damage. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. A few years ago, some Boy Scout leaders were found to have toppled over ancient rock formations on other federal land in Utah. And evidence of vandalism in the form of carving, graffiti and other types of damage are found regularly in Colorado state, county and city parks.
So where am I going with all this? The people who commit these acts are like the Frank Miller’s of our society; they come into our parks with the intent to do damage. Often times they do it when others are around; people who can stop it or, say something or report it, but don’t. Those people are like the townspeople.
Sometimes, someone stands up to the vandals. Sort of like Will Kane.
Of course, High Noon
is a shoot-em up western, so my comparison is more figurative than it is literal. Do not physically confront someone who is doing damage, and don't take it upon yourself to "fix" any damage you see done — your good intentions may cause more damage. But it takes little effort to report
what you see. If you’re in a group where someone is doing some damage, say something
to discourage bad behavior.
What I really want you to take away from this is pretty simple:
Don’t be Frank Miller. Don’t be the cowardly townspeople. Be Will Kane.
Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: firstname.lastname@example.org.