Twilight Nation – Little Joe takes a Stand

Is this twilight’s last gleaming?

Is the United States struggling through an unrecoverable loss of its greatness and passing away into the darkness? How do you fit into the wheels that are turning?

Note: After I had a emergency trip to the hospital last Thanksgiving weekend when I had a non-febrile yet very painful appendicitis, I stopped watching episodes of Bonanza. I felt like I needed to get refocused on some other life problems that have been lingering in my life.

And I also can not ignore the growing public discontent with the way our constitutional republic is being threatened by weakness in character, or an insatiable desire for power at the sacrifice of loyalty to the United States and American values.



Leadership in key areas is weak, non-principled, or working in opposition to the will of a people and the law set forth by the Constitution. There is an enormous amount of talk, but no effective action. I like to call this “show” politics. Politicians in high places are in effect mere marionettes on the national stage, either being stonewalled at the critical points of enforcing the law, or being a willing stooge, fall men and women, in a deadly performance orchestrated by powerful forces working against the sovereignty of the United States.

“Taking a fall” used to be a consider a rarity when a boxer threw, or purposely lost a fight in order to meet the demands of odds makers. Nowadays, being a political FALL-MAN or FALL-WOMAN, or a CARDBOARD-MAN or WOMAN seems like an essential part of the resume for the society of show-politicians.

The power still rests with the majority of Americans, but you would never be led to believe it by the “alphabet” news networks because they also have either something to gain or perhaps they are running fearful, compromising their purpose in a free society, acting as a watchdog, a crucial check and balance to put the restraints on tyranny and corruption.

There is a struggle. I believe the critical pieces of our great Republic are still potent and much of that resides in the efforts of individuals and groups to act wisely and courageously at all and every level. But you didn’t really need me to tell you, right?

In between one useless oration given by another emasculated government official or another, I couldn’t help noting another scene from the old TV show Bonanza.

Sometimes by surprise, I find myself amazed by the venerable Western TV series where amidst its hollywoodish fight scenes and tireless romanticism, there is profound and inspired script writing and acting.

Series 5 episode 4 titled “Twilight Town”  features Michael Landon as “Little Joe” who gets bushwhacked out in the desert by a highway robber. With a head injury, dehydrated and suffering from desert-exposure, he finds himself in a ghost town, or is it?


Little Joe Cartwright played by Michael Landon. Image source: BZ Cartwright 1968


The townspeople he discovers are seeking a strong leader to help fight against a marauding band of outlaws who constantly threaten to kill, rape and destroy at the sight of any disobedience among the towns people. You might say this is political correct tolerance taken to its end game.

Without a strong leader, the people risk spending an eternity in their cursed state where they remain prisoners in their own self-imposed helplessness and self-depreciation.

At the critical juncture in the story, Little Joe finds himself the leader and a dramatic scene unfolds at the barricade meant to keep out the outlaws. The men of the town who had recently pledged themselves to defend their city, begin to weasel out at the first sign of danger from the returning badmen. They want to take down the barricade to appease their foes.

As the bad guys ride off to regroup, Little Joe takes out his utter disgust with the town’s spineless leadership and proceeds to give one of the best inspiring smack-down speeches I have heard on Bonanza.


Image source: BZ Cartwright 1968


Joe begins, speaking aside to a young lady who is the love interest in the show:
” I lost them… Last night they were so ready to fight, now I lost them.”

Meanwhile, the men, exercising their lack of resolve, start taking down the barrier.

Joe starts in: “Wait!…(loud and angry) I told you to wait…” he continues, “You want this barricade down, alright… I help build it, I’ll show you how to tear it down.”

He picks up part of the barricade and chucks it.

“First thing that goes is your courage! … That just gets in the way…”

He tosses another piece,
“The next thing that goes is your manhood, another thing you don’t need…”

“Concern for the safety of your women and children… it’s too late for that now.”

He handles another object, “Now here’s the last thing, it’s the last thing but that’s gotta go too gentlemen. This is your self-respect.”

Tosses another heavy object out of position.

“Alright, there it is… there’s what’s left of you… Nothin’! “

“Now [the outlaws] can ride into this town like [they] were going to a Sunday meeting’. “

“But a breech goes both ways gentlemen”

“If a man can ride in, another one can walk out , and that’s just what I’m goin’ to do.”
“I’m gonna take this gun and I’m going to walk through that barricade and I’m going walk down the street up to the mesa and I’m going to kill as many of [them] as I can before they kill me.”

“Now Is there anyone in this town man enough to join me?”

One of the leaders retorts in fear, “Well that’s just plain suicide!”

“Maybe not,” Joe reveals, “It’s an old calvary trick … when everything seems hopeless – charge.”

“Look we can do it if you’ll just get behind me!”

More complaining,  “But they’ll put all of us down before we get half way up that hill!”

Joe responds (disdainfully)“Oh-no they won’t because it’s the last thing they expect from you…”

Then Joe, with a burst of energy, “Look, we can do it. Now who’s with me!?”


Thanks Michael “Little Joe” Landon, for all of for years of service as a character actor. Image source: BZ Cartwright 1968



It is important to note, by quoting this particular dramatic segment of Bonanza, I am not condoning violence as the solution to the many problems we face in the United States. You need to view the entire episode in context to understand the need for armed conflict at the end. The focus is on the courage needed to take any positive and necessary action. The average citizen or representative needs to take moral action on a day today basis in the many peaceful avenues available.
In the United States, we are a nation of laws, supported by an underlying  faith that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” and by and large, because of this foundation as cited in the Declaration of Independence, we can go about our normal business in our society without fear of being coerced or cheated by the common citizen.
Here are a few personal or societal questions to consider. You could probably think of more.
How are people in today’s government like the townspeople in the Bonanza episode?
Will continually giving in to the demands of those who want to take advantage of you help you end up in a position to direct your own destiny, or be controlled by others?
If you are an American citizen, will your descendants continue to enjoy the benefits that you experienced in your life? Why or why not?
What did your ancestors leave from in the land of their ancestors? Why was it worth making the journey and sacrifice to live and work in America?
How do you fit into the wheel of change?
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I’ll see you… on the next page

Challen Yee

Challen Yee

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