Blue Duck smiled. "I raped women and stole children and burned houses and shot men and run off horses and killed cattle and robbed who I pleased, all over your territory, ever since you been a law," he said. "And you never even had a good look at me until today. I don't reckon you would have killed me."
"He would have killed you," Call said, annoyed by the man's insolent tone. "Or I would have, if need be."
- Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove
"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but give place unto wrath: for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine; I will repay', saith the Lord."
- the Lord, Romans 12.19 KJV
My father raised me on a diet of the King James Bible and western movies. Those two elements were formative to the man I am. Crack open my bones one of these days and you'll find thou and begotten and the theme song from Shane; a strange marrow of mercy and justice. That's just the way it is. And as such, days like yesterday make my bones ache.
Sometimes - 'if need be' - there is a reckoning. In this world ye shall have Osamas and Blue Ducks, tribulation, that's just the way it is. But when the reckoning rises that scene must be framed by a mercy we the people mishandled Sunday night. Its alright, I believe it showed our age as a nation - still quite young. Nevertheless, even in our youth I believe we can reflect and mature for the next time...for yes, there will be a next time.
I cannot recall a single shoot-out where the prevailing aftermath was revelry. No, it was always a sigh of relief, a brief mending. My western heroes always paused in the gunsmoke of death with a knowing, a reverence for the weightier matters of justice and mercy, and also a knowing that there is none righteous, no not one. The soul of the offender was never judged, but rather his actions for damn sure. Then on the turn of a spur they walked into a temporally scrubbed dawn, a foretaste...no parades or prattle, just stepping aside so the town could get back to the essence of life - braiding a little girl's hair, planting tomatoes, cleaning the mirror in the saloon, sweeping the boardwalk, mucking out the livery stable, replacing the flowers in the cemetery, getting a haircut and a shave, maybe even axing a stump.
I pray that's what we get back to today, all of us.