The interview of some Lubbock, TX cowboys following a worlds-colliding kind of incident with a few of their steer has been making the Internet rounds. The men captured two runaway cattle that had escaped their ranch and were on somewhat of a rampage through the city and on its surrounding freeway, including an unannounced visit to an attorney’s office downtown.
The attraction of the interview for viewers is not simply the discussion of the curious incident itself, but the thoroughly likeable and appealing character of the ranchers. Catholics interested in attracting people to what has become a curiosity in our culture – authentic practice of the Faith – could learn a few lessons from them.
- Get your priorities right. Cowboy No. 1 explains that he was sitting in class, “an important class, mind you,” when he received word about the runaway steer. One doesn’t imagine it took him long to jump up and grab a lasso. Are we as adept at weighing the relative importance of things? The ranchers knew the cattle were a priority over the class. Aren’t there many occasions where we as Catholics have lost this gut instinct for our priorities? Do I spend more time following the latest controversies online than I do in prayer? Or, which is more important to me – making sure the priest knows I disagree with him or resolving to pray for him privately?
- Be courteous and helpful. Watching the interview, one has the impression that the cowboys consented to it – and made it entertaining – in part to help out the journalist. They didn’t simply answer questions in a stiff, efficient way, but knew that telling their story as a story would help people enjoy and understand it better. And who can miss the young men’s use of “Ma’am” when addressing the reporter? “Everybody talks like that down there,” some people remark. Well, why? Because their parents taught them that that’s the polite way to speak. Courtesy is a human virtue that falls under the cardinal virtue of justice. Being polite gives the other person his due as an image of God. That goes for blog posts and comment boxes, too.
- Explain stuff. Sure Cowboy No. 2 got a little Inside Baseball with his tech talk about lassoing. But when he caught on that the journalist had no clue what he was referring to he slowed down and gave a quick show-and-tell. And now we all know what a hondo knot is. Was he condescending in his explanation? No, he simply shared what he knew, as it had once been shared with him when he was ignorant (I’m thinking age 2).
- Show your joy. The cowboys love what they do. They don’t use their special knowledge and somewhat countercultural lifestyle as a ledge off which they can look down on others. They don’t have to “try” to show their joy either – it’s a natural part of loving the life they have. If we don’t love the life we have in Christ in a way that radiates joy to others, we need to ask ourselves why.
My favorite part of the interview is actually something the journalist says toward the end of the video. She’s so attracted to the cowboys’ obvious good nature, confidence, and joy that she blurts out, “I want to be all of your friends!” When’s the last time someone said that about you and your Catholic posse?