I watched The Alamo the other day. This wasn’t the one with John Wayne as Davy Crockett — though I have seen that one, of course — but the one with Billy Bob Thornton.
The Alamo itself is an icon. It represents something much larger than just a word, a picture, or a building. This version of the movie did a good job of describing its importance.
Texans then were much like Texans today. That is to say, they were very individualistic. Not the live-and-let-live individualism we seem to like, but the live-and-let-die individualism that is perhaps not so attractive. I got to wondering whether the two are different.
In any case, the Texans were not united. The Alamo gave them a symbol they could unite behind. This is very much what the movie is about: the power of the symbol. Davy Crockett is a symbol; Jim Bowie is a symbol; Travis is a symbol. Human beings in general and men in particular need something larger than ourselves, better than ourselves to believe in and to unite us.
Disunity is followed by destruction.
That is another message of the movie.
After the Alamo falls, Houston strings out Santa Anna’s troops and finally defeats them at the Battle of San Jacinto.
Man is a group animal; a social animal.
Homo homini lupus. Man is the wolf of man. It’s in Latin, so that means it’s not a new idea. I don’t think all men are wolves. I do think there are two kinds of individualists: predators and the victims of predators.
The smart predator doesn’t attack the center of the herd. The smart predator attacks the ones along the edge.
This is a hard sell because we prize individualism in this country.
I am now going to rant and for a while I will sound like a communist, but please wait.
As a social animal, we arrange ourselves in groups to protect ourselves from “wolves.” Of course, most of the time those wolves are men.
The wolves these days are pretty smart. They no longer kill the sheep out right. They’ve learned that there’s more to be gained in the long-run by shearing the sheep for its wool than in skinning it and in bleeding it a few pints at a time than in draining it all at once.
Like in the movie The Matrix, they’ve created a phony reality for us. They take what they want and convince us that what they give us is what we want.
They encourage our alienation from one another while at the same time analyzing our statistical behavior as a group.
These “wolves” are in fact in control of corporations because they recognize the power of the group. Corporations by their very nature exist longer than a single individual.
Corporations are huge, so one might rightly believe the answer for the common man is to ally himself with other men for mutual protection. One might wrongly believe the institution we form for mutual protection is the government. The government is controlled by the same folks that control the corporations. (See, I am not a communist.)
Okay, if not the government, then who?
Well, there is only one Entity that is above the government, above the corporations, above the wolves that run the corporations. I believe He sent his Son to protect us from the wolves and to do this He established a church.
That is not a popular answer because the church tells me to stop doing things that I like to do. It tells me to live a life that sounds kind of dull. It tells me that my existence is not all about me. This comes in crosswise (Cross-wise!) to my individuality.
Those who have ears to hear, let them hear. Take the red pill. Remember the Alamo.
(Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. We invite you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. )