Friday, July 19, 2013

The Lone Ranger’s Code of the West

We had so much fun writing about the new Lone Ranger film last week that I thought I would call to your attention a little-known gem of a book, The Lone Ranger’s Cold of the West by Jim Lichtman.  It is still available on Alibris and Abebooks, and comes recommended.

Billed as An action-packed adventure in values and ethics with the legendary champion of justice, Lichtman actually creates a guide to living-a-good-life as if imagined by the Lone Ranger.

The major conceit of the book is that Lichtman, an ethics specialist who created a training series to enhance individual responsibility, communication, and team performance, meets the Lone Ranger and Tonto while considering what it means to live as a good person.  Each chapter narrates a story from the Ranger’s fabled past, and each has a moral lesson that results in what Lichtman calls The Lone Ranger’s Code of the West.

To his credit, throughout the book Lichtman finds the Ranger and Tonto to be a bit of a drag – their relentless do-goodism and interferences on behalf of justice are sometimes overreaching or sanctimonious.  But despite the verbal sparring between the author and the Ranger and Tonto, Lichman comes to realize that the Lone Ranger was striving to live larger than all of us, to be both an ideal and an inspiration.  And though no one could really live up to the impossibly high bar of moral behavior the Ranger erects, it is certainly something to work towards.

In short, the Code says that the Lone Ranger is Honest, Fair, Caring, Respectful, Loyal, Tolerant, does his Duty and is Morally Courageous.  But, even more interesting, Lichtman plays the game of What Would the Lone Ranger Do – a tool for character-based decision making.  (And much more interesting than WWJD…)

What Would the Lone Ranger do rests on three principals:

First, the Lone Ranger considers the interests and well-being of all likely to be affected by his decisions.

Second, he makes decisions characterized by the core ethical values of honesty, fairness, caring, respect, loyalty, tolerance, duty and the moral courage to do what needs to be done. 

And finally, if it is clearly necessary to choose one ethical value over another, the Lone Ranger will do the thing that he sincerely believes to be the best for society in the long run.

Lichtman also hosted an extremely long-lasting seminar, “Values, Ethics and the Lone Ranger,” which further fleshed out what he considered the Ranger’s teachings.

Lichtman playing Plato to the Lone Ranger’s Socrates is a very amusing conceit, and he manages to bring the whole thing off with considerable style.  The Lone Ranger’s Code of the West can be found at many used book-sellers for as little as $5, and is well worth the investment.

And some day, you might find yourself asking, “what would the Lone Ranger do?”

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