Recommendation: «High Noon»

«Watching High Noon really formed our way of fighting against evil,» Marek Benda says. «Everyone is asking the sheriff to leave so that the town will have no problems from the bad guys. But the sheriff comes back nevertheless, because his virtue and honor can’t allow him to leave. He is looking for assistance, but no one wants to do that. But his wife helps him in the end.»
«Live not by Lies» by Dreher (2020)

Reading «Live not by Lies» by Dreher (2020), I was reminded of the movie «High Noon» (with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, see quotation above). So I watched it again. The story is pretty much covered by the quotation above (save that he is the Marshal, not the sheriff). And yeah, there are some very good scenes in the movie. It is a bit like «12 Angry Men» in the sense that it is a striking portrayal of human nature. And shows the importance of personal integrity.
(Although you could argue that the Marshal knew he had no other choice. He could have run, but as he says in the movie, they would not make it far and would be on the run for the rest of their lives.)

There is one scene in which the deputy, who quit earlier that day after trying to bribe the Marshal into giving him his position once the Marshal leaves his job, confronts the Marshal. The deputy wants him to run away, even going so far as putting a sattle on a horse and trying to knock him out to make him flee. The Marshal has to knock the deputy out, after asking why it means so much to him that he runs away.

There were many acts of cowardice or … rationalizations in the movie. Some concerning why the Marshal should run away. Most why the person himself would not stand at the Marshal’s side against the four bad guys. But that scene with the Deputy was the deepest dive into the cesspit. The deputy had to face that he was a coward, or at least did not stand up for what is right. That was hard to swallow and you see him drinking heavily to cope with that realization. But if the Marshal were to flee, than his own cowardice would not be as bad. Then it would be «normal» behavior, because everyone would have been a coward.

I think this behavior of cowards, or more generally those who conform to bad situations even though they know it is wrong, explains a lot of the problems. And yeah, totalitarianism is currently primed, but it does explain a lot about the main force behind totalitarianism, the people themselves (in contrast to a dictatorship, where it’s a small group of people). It’s this drive by those who conformed to make others conform as well, so their shame is not so great. So that they can tell themselves that there really is no other choice, or perhaps even that what they do is actually good.

And this is what makes people with integrity dangerous, and what makes the people themselves dangerous to people with integrity. Those who stand up show that resistance against bad situations is possible. Even if you have fear (which the Marshal clearly has) — you can conquer that fear and do what is right. These beacons of integrity show what is possible, and if people have already conformed, they become objects of envy and anger.

And yeah, it might explain hate by some vaccinated people on those who did not conform and got «the jab». And that is also what makes the movie a classic. Not only very well done, but still highly relevant perspective on human nature.

BTW, the book by Dreher is: Dreher, R. (2020). Live not by Lies. A Manual for Christian Dissidents. Sentinel. It’s very good as well, likely write something about it as well.