Cool Hand Luke — 1967

Posted on May 31, 2013 by Robert Ringer Comments (11)


“Is that your answer, Old Man?  You’re a hard case too, ain’t you?”

In difficult times, I’ve often thought about a scene from one of Paul Newman’s most memorable films, Cool Hand Luke. 

Newman’s character, Luke Jackson, had escaped from a prison chain gang earlier in the day, and a posse is closing in on him.  He takes refuge in an old abandoned church and begins talking to God about what a hard case he’s been all his life.

Finally, he gets down on his knees and asks God what he should do.  Just then, his fellow escapee, Dragline (George Kennedy), bursts in the side door and frantically warns him that the police are outside.  Whereupon Luke, displaying that classic Newman grin, looks up at the ceiling and says, “Is that your answer, Old Man?  You’re a hard case too, ain’t you?”

When times get tough, I think many people see God as “a hard case.”  But perhaps they need to examine their own thoughts and actions more honestly.  In the case of Cool Hand Luke, it was pretty clear that the problem wasn’t that God was a hard case.  The problem was that Luke made himself a hard case through his own choices.

Something for each of us to think about whenever we’re feeling like we’ve been dealt a bad hand.

This is the scene in the church, but it cuts off before Newman’s famous line:

Robert Ringer

+Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

11 responses to “Cool Hand Luke — 1967”

  1. Paul Hadinger says:

    You make a good point. It reminds me how important it is to teach decision-making skills plus the moral and ethical foundation for them early in life. Most decisions cannot be un-made. I plan to address this more in my next book. (FYI: Last book was "Controllers & Rollers: Do You Control Or Roll?")

  2. RedStateDan says:

    Wow! Just when I think I have the mind of a libertarian figured out . . . you write this excellent post! I know this will sound insulting or argumentative; please understand that I don't mean to be confrontational or obnoxious. I really want to learn and understand. As a conservative Christian, I am thoroughly disgusted with the abject lack of leadership displayed by the Republican Party, but I've always held libertarians at arms length because so many I've met espouse things like the legalization of pot and prostitution, a hands-off position on legalized abortion, and what seems to be a "Be nice to them and they'll be nice to us" foreign policy. To me these seem to be amoral positions which ignore the dark realities of drug addiction, the exploitation of women, and the fact that fanatical people out there want to kill us. Please educate me: is there a place at the Libertarian table for socially conservative Christian believers?

    • timlebsack says:

      Q: "is there a place at the Libertarian table for socially conservative Christian believers?"
      A: Yes, certainly.
      I've been to many, many Libertarian gatherings. Talking to 100 Libertarians on issues ranging from abortion to welfare would lead almost anyone to believe that we have no consensus … and You'd be correct. What Libertarians value is Liberty – the right to live as we choose. Some libertarians want to donate money for medical research, some want to give energy to saving animals. What we have in common is a respect for the Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The LP does not desire or advocate drug legalization. The LP advocates that the government no longer criminalize the free choices of free people. If someone wants to sit at home and smoke drugs, We respect their choice. The world only has one savior and it cannot be timlebsack. While I would never allow my children or encourage my friends to smoke drugs, I also don't want them tossed in a cell by a self-appointed morality police. Imagine if Barack Obama, George Bush, and Al Gore were convicted of the so-called crime of drug use. Would these men be better off ??
      Abortion is an issue that the LP finds very problematic. Many are against it, some are willing to make it illegal at a state, county or city level. Some are on the other side of the issue. Where we agree is in our willingness to not assume that we are the final arbiter for the decisions of another. (Personally, I'm not convinced that any law written in a book will halt abortion but only a law written on the heart.) Regarding foreign policy, Libertarians are very straight forward – Do not interfere in the internal affairs of others. A good example would be how we treat the family in the house across the street – If not friends, friendly. We protect our property, trade peaceably and desire others to do the same. Anyone stealing life or property via force or fraud is compelled to restore the damaged party to his previous state. This is the Libertarian view that criminals should compensate the victim. Libertarians believe in Self-Government. Libertarianism is the combination of liberty (the freedom to live your life in any peaceful way you choose), responsibility (the prohibition against the use of force against others, except in defense), and tolerance (honoring and respecting the peaceful choices of others). History shows, In Liberty is Life.

    • Hillfarmer says:

      I know just how you feel, Dan. As a Christian it took me a while to understand some of the libertarian position. Let me say I am a long time Christian and Bible student. I used to think that if we could elect enough Republicans we could turn our nation around. I differ from you in that my route to the libertarian position and the Librertarian Party was because of their position on the war on drugs. I have never used illegal drugs but many years ago I began to notice what a failure this "war" was. I reconized the corruption that was caused in police departments and the court system due to the "war". I was not alone. I am a member of the Independent Christian Church which is stongly Bible based…"We speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent."……………………….. I began others starting to make quite comments that the war on drugs was failing.

      Then a man I met when we were kids at a Christian Crusade event came around with Libertarian literature. I liked their stand on drugs and was reading their paper. Finally, I joined.

      Sorry for the length of this post but it is impossible to shorten it more. From my knowledge of the Bible I began to believe that libertarianism was the only position that meshed with Christianity. Then I audited a Christian leadership course taught by the late Dr. Joe Ellis professor from the Cincinnati Christian University. Dr Ellis applied the class to current events and much of what he said reminded me of what I read in Libertarian literature. During a break I said to Dr. Ellis that some of his comments were very libertarian. His response…"I am considering becoming a Libertarian…I think God is libertarian." !!

      Dan, I expect you will pull away from some of what he says but read it a few times and think about it. Read: To My Fellow Christians by Laurence M. Vance… . You will have to go down to page 33 to start the article. You can then google Vance and read a bunch of his articles. He is good. But this one covers the sins and crimes you are worried about.

      One more thing…prostitution is not always "exploitation of women" that is convenient indoctrination of the statists to justify their big government. I cannot find it put one of the posters on Ringers sight some time back talked about a woman who choose to put herself through college by providing "horizontal entertainment" instead of taking student loans.

      • Hillfarmer says:

        I wish we could edit these posts. All those dots above……………………….. were there to remind me to insert another maxim of the Christian Church it was not coming to mind so I went on. It is "In essentials unity, in non essentials, liberty, in all things love". Maybe that made it easier to accept what timlebsack said so well about Libertarianism.

        • RedStateDan says:

          Hillfarmer, you and timlebsack have both been incredibly thoughtful and kind. As soon as I hit the "submit" button here I will click your link for Vance. I don't know if it's possible to dialogue with you more, Hillfarmer. I had to chuckle in agreement with how you "used to think" electing enough Republicans was the solution. Me too! What a bitter disappointment most of them have turned out to be! The reason I'm so "down" on drugs is that, for me, pot was the gateway drug that led me to cocaine . . . and there I did and saw things that I don't even share with my wife. God used that to bring me to my knees before Him, so I'm living proof of Romans 8:28. But I've seen firsthand so many lives and families destroyed by drugs. No offense intended at all, but it seems to be that a "let the buyer beware" approach is just not enough. Please don't think I'm trying to pick a fight; just hoping to dialogue. Anyway, I'm off to Mr. Vance. Thanks again for your kindness!

          • RedStateDan says:

            Hillfarmer, I read Vance through. And then I went to church this morning and during a sermon that warned of the dangers of swerving into either legalism or licentiousness, I heard this quote read from C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity: "[T]he devil . . . always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies upon your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors.” My thoughts went back to Vance's article. I had to ask myself if, in recoiling against the idea of living in a godless, amoral society, I had gradually been drawn toward the error of statism. Thanks again for your thoughtful reply and for making me think. Blessings, Dan

          • Hillfarmer says:

            Dan, I see where you are coming from. We had a preacher once who was very vocal against alcohol. After a few years I wondered if he has a recovering alcoholic. Eventually, word came out that he was. He was unhappy that people found out but then we knew why he was so bitter against alcohol. No one respected him less. I think it was his turning from alcohol that turned him towards Christ. He left a his paying job and became a preacher. To give you an idea of his feelings towards alcohol I mentioned one time that aftershave lotion irritated my more then it soothed. He burst out with OFCOURSE it has alcohol in it and that stuff is poison!
            However, Dan marijuana was illegal when you and every other person who found it to be a gateway drug to more potent drugs and it still happens. I don't know if it will be a worse or greater problem if it is not illegal. If one could run a war on drugs without it causing corruption in government I would be more inclined to support it.

          • FunkyChick says:

            Pot was the gateway drug that let me to cigarettes!!! Never cocaine . . . .

            Well, no, sorry. Truth be told, the "gateway drug" that led me to cigs was my "ex." I WANTED to stink so he wouldn't come near me (or ever want to sleep near me) nor hit me, EVER again. Thank GOD I've quit cigs now, too, since Sept. '07. I had been smoking up to nearly two packs a day after that "sumbich" (my ex) hit me — in Nov. of '00 — after only 4 months of marriage (after dating almost 9 years). Then, he sued me to try to get my house and my parents' assets. NEVER trust lawyers!!!! Will tell ya: Chantix WORKS!!!!! I also thank God for the doctor I had, at that time (in July of '07), who suggested that "cure" (Chantix) to stop smoking. I should probably be a spokesperson for them . . . .

  3. deusimplicitus says:

    Most people are in the unvarnished truth, their own worst enemies yet wish to always put the blame of their circumstances or situation on an outside agency to preserve their sense of self esteem and protect their own fragile egos.

  4. Awesomely done article piece. I surely appreciate this website. Continue the good work!

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