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Hubby loves Westerns, especially the old ones, so often on the weekends we will watch Daniel Boone, Gunsmoke, or whatever Clint Eastwood happens to be staring in. Actually, hubby watches, I tolerate it in the background. Although you can call me Ms Kitty and I promise not to call you Festus.

You may laugh if you wish, but I actually have had a long standing crush on Festus. His name was Curtis Wain Gates, later Ken Curtis, and he was a crooner, meaning he had a beautiful voice and sang with the Sons of the Pioneers. He passed away in 1991.

There’s something very sweet about the old shows, morality in black and white. I’m telling you, I just have to go and ruin everything. While my hubby is just breathing in the romance of a golden era that never really existed, I have to pick it apart. The other day this guy shoots 10 people, derails a train, and destroys a small community.

“Bit self absorbed and violent, don’t you think?” I ask hubby.

“They stole his boots,” replies hubby, as if this makes all the sense in the world

“Yes, I know they stole his boots, but just the same how many people is he going to kill getting revenge for a pair of boots??!”

“They were his boots,” says hubby.

I’m chuckling here, hubby was the bottom of 15 kids and I imagine that people taking your stuff still really resonates with him. I know this from all the times he’s accused me of taking his socks, which I have never done because ewww, I have much better socks.

“I don’t think all these people should have to die just because some guy is mad about his boots,” I try to explain.

“They stole his boots” he says impatiently, as if this were the simplest thing in the world to understand. “Besides, they aren’t real people.”

Are they ever real people? I mean, don’t we simply dehumanize all the people we’re going to kill, render them these non human obstacles that simply got in the way of our quest for boot revenge?

“You just don’t understand,” he says and he’s quite right, I don’t. I don’t understand pride, revenge, holding grudges, and quests to win back what has allegedly stolen. Or perhaps I do, perhaps my methods are just different. Perhaps I’ve simply learned the value of forgiveness, of setting yourself free, of letting go of offense. Of restoring what has been stolen, ten fold.

And of going out and buying yourself the best darn pair of boots you can find.

As much as I would like to shoot a half dozen people and derail a train, it just doesn’t seem like the most effective way to wind up actually wearing the best boots in town. Also, if everyone is dead, who is going to admire your new boots?

I’m chucking here, morality in black and white suddenly doesn’t seem so black and white to me anymore. I can see two sides of the coin here, the importance of justice and the way we can win with forgiveness. They aren’t concepts in conflict at all, they go together like peas in a pod.

Perhaps if I were the fastest gun in the West and somebody stole my boots, I’d be on a quest for justice and vengeance too, but I’m oddly grateful for not having that power, from having had no other choice then to turn to the One who deals in both justice and mercy.

“Winning” isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes “losing” is the far better choice, which is exactly why I surrendered all to hubby. “I can’t believe they stole his  boots! Who even does that?”

“Exactly,” he said, quite delighted I finally understood, which of course I didn’t at all.