Cowboy Up


March 24, 2005 by Isaac Hovet

I am not a cowboy. I don’t own a horse. I don’t like big hats. I don’t smoke cancer.

But this picture does remind me of an attitude that is common here in Oregon:

I can do it alone (and, by the way, I ain’t gonna help you fur nuthin).

Some of you have discussed this in more detail lately so I am going to allow you to speak for yourselves. You bring an interesting perspective. I did write some about Oregonian individualism a while back (see The Days are getting Sunny), but recently the issue was raised again by my comments on Flakes.

Lets visit it again.

Commenter “Dominique”writes:

I come from a combination of several different state cultures. In most places, I have not been treated with such reluctant caring. As a terrible generalization, I notice that many Oregonians are not interested and often resist caring for people on a way that may impose on them . . . . Most people from Oregon won’t let you into their lives, hearts, and won’t care if they are rude to you and stand you up for a meeting. They will be taken aback if you hold them to their commitments to you. Don’t ask too much from them.

As someone who has lived in Oregon for most of my life, I find it fascinating to hear an “outsiders” perspective. In a later conversation Dominique continues:

No one in Oregon wants to hear anything other than Oregon is the most fabulous place to live in the entire world. That and they have this obsessive need to ‘hide’ it because it is so much better than everywhere else. It is egotistical provincialness in my opinion.

Interesting. ‘Nique openly admits that these are gross generalizations, but do they ring with you? “TheGreatRedLion” seems to agree:

I have been offended at the emaciating lack of community that exists in our neighborhoods and churches . . . I believe it stems from our fallacious belief that we each have our “own” truth to live and that the only universal sin is to interrupt someone else’s pursuit of their personal fulfillment. This world view is probably more prevalent in Oregon than many other places. “Skin deep” is totally correct… often our kindness is the veneer that we use to keep people at a “comfortable” distance. We like comfort. We are tempted, and even culturally permitted to recoil into our happy holes in the ground.

Now. Why is Oregon this way? What is it about our cultural DNA that lends itself to selfishness? I have some hunches, but I want to hear from you. What makes you selfish? Is it being, specifically, an Oregonian?

Maybe we should all be cowboys so we can hide our shame of selfishness behind our big hats, have a “best friend” horse (instead of real friends) and smoke cancer so we don’t disgrace the human race for long.



4 thoughts on “Cowboy Up

  1. Grammy says:

    You are so right…and it hits at the core of the problem of the church…but I don’t think it’s about being an Oregonian (although it seems like we are really good about being an “independent-self-centered-all-about-me-i’ll-do-it-myself-thank-you-very-much” type of people) but it’s about being a people duped by the lies of the evil one who has made the “Lifestyles of the Busy and Unconcerned for Others” the norm and the very accepted. And if you’re not amongst that group, why, then, you haven’t arrived, you’re not successful, your kids are talented, and you’re quite possibly a nerd. And if you don’t have a busy lifestyle, then you have learned to find solace behind your closed doors, which you enter right after you press the button on your garage door opener and close all your blinds so that no one can see that you’re really home. Your porch is used to display fake flowers and your patio out back is enclosed so you can have privacy…Heaven forbid you should see your neighbors!

    Well, I don’t even know if this is following your thoughts on “flakes” or the “cowboy” lifestyle, but it pushes my buttons, (no pun intended) because I see it weekly in the church, and even more sadly, in my own life.

    I’m NOT a cowboy and I’m NOT going to become one…Lord, Jesus, save me!

  2. Bridger says:


    Well said . . . well said . . . bravo.

    Thank you for your point of view. This is along the same line of thinking that we are going in.

  3. I am starting to feel a little bad for our lonely cowboy… he’s becoming a straw man. (that’s a good pun too 😉 )
    When you describe the “cowboy”, I’m hearing you talking about the guy the song “desperado” is about.. “all those things you love are hurting you somehow”… The song is a heartfelt invitation from the cowboy community to the hurting part of the selfish cowboy to come back home.
    (A real-live cowboy in cowboy boots changed his plans last weekend to drive 1.5 hrs from his house to help me lay my floor at my house on my schedule. He was the best example of what we are aren’t and know we should be)

  4. This post has been removed by the author.

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