The old OK Corral. When I was but a wee one, my sister and I used to pretend we were having the epic shoot-out at the OK Corral. We must have seen it in a movie, or read it in a book. But we would posture, and hide, and come out firing. I think we wore hats. And we would make the noises of a gunfight, but in a very flimsy manner. It wouldn’t be like… “blam, blam, blam.” It was likened to a high pitched “pew, pew, pew.”
We never had guns, or toy guns, or anything like them. Mom and Dad would not buy us toy guns, and truthfully, I don’t ever remember asking. Instead, my sister and I would head outdoors and find some good sticks, which resembled pistols, or rifles. And the reenactment would begin.
In all these years, I hadn’t give this much thought. Until I read that today is the anniversary of the actual clash. On this day in 1881, there were three brothers named Earp. I think they wore hats too.
Anyway, they went up against the Clanton-McLaury gang in a legendary shootout at that good old OK Corral. Located of places, in the warm and cheerful Tombstone, Arizona.
You see, it all goes back to the money. Silver was discovered near Tombstone in 1877. So, the place grew like wildfire. It became one of the richest mining towns in the Southwest. Greed, stealing, assaults, ensued.
So those Earps… Wyatt Earp, a former Kansas police officer working as a bank security guard, and his brothers, Morgan and Virgil, the town marshal, represented “law and order” in Tombstone. They didn’t have the best reputations though. They were a bit power-hungry and ruthless themselves.
The second part of the equation is the Clantons and McLaurys. They were a bunch of cowboys who lived on a ranch outside of town. And, as a sideline, they did a bit of cattle rustling, thieving, and murdering. I guess the Shoe Salesman position was filled in town, so they went on to other things.
So the Earps did not see eye to eye with the Clantons and McLaurys. And, in October 1881, the ongoing struggle between these two groups ended in a whole big blaze of gunfire at the OK Corral.
Things started boiling up between the two clans the day before. Clashy. Clashy. A little threat here. A little warning there. Then. The famous gunfight that ensued lasted all of 30 seconds, and around 30 shots were fired. There seems to be an ongoing debate on who fired the first shot. Most reports say that the shootout began when Virgil Earp pulled out his revolver and shot Billy Clanton point-blank in the chest, while Doc Holliday fired a shotgun blast at Tom McLaury’s chest.
When the gun smoke cleared, Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers were dead. Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded.
Ike Clanton and Claiborne had run for the hills.
The Earps and Holliday were charged with murder by a local sheriff. Then. A month later, a Tombstone judge found the men not guilty. This guy ruled that they were “fully justified in committing these homicides.” And there it is. Another disagreement settled. Once and for all. By gunshots.
I wish we humans would start learning. Collectively. I wish there was no violence, or disputes, or wars. I wish we could finally elevate ourselves to a higher spiritual plane, where fear and hostility did not occur.
But when it comes to the every day, we can’t change the whole world. The only thing we can do is that which is right in front of us. We live, and things happen, and then we react. The only thing we are truly in control of, is just that. Our reactions. And when we are living with peace in our hearts, we react with virtue. That is when the old corral is truly OK.
“Days come and go, but the only thing that remains within you are the lessons that you learn by each passing day.”
“There is more than one road to spiritual salvation. We discover a philosophical way of living by encountering the world, culling knowledge from all available resources, and thinking reverently about life.”
― Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls