The Tao of Eastwood

Chapter 4


When a man’s got money in his pocket, he begins to appreciate peace.

Joe (Man With No Name) | A Fistful of Dollars

When taxes are too high,
people go hungry.
When government is too intrusive, people lose their spirit.
Act for the people’s benefit.
Trust them; leave them alone.

Tao Te Ching | from verse 75

In desperate times, people want change. Likely that change comes in the form of conflict. If you are oppressed, you want to overthrow your oppressor.

When times are not so tough and the prosperity gets spread around, then there is peace. Even if it’s not perfect, at least everyone is in it together.

Eastwood’s lone cowboy is often mistakenly interpreted as a selfish opportunist. Exploiting every chance he gets by killing and stealing what he wishes.

This Magnificent Stranger (which is the original title of the movie) is, however, really a champion for the underdogs and misfits. He is an equalizer; causing problems for the cruel and corrupt. He is on no mission to be “good” or save the day. He likewise has no ambition to control anyone.

The Man With No Name seems to say, “You do your thing, I’ll do mine. You aren’t hurting anyone, so be free to go about your business. But if you want to get nasty, well, I can play that game too.”

There is a certain laissez-faire spirit about the character which is part Leone, part Eastwood and part American West mythology.

That same spirit is also alive in the words of Lao Tzu.