Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Willie Nelson…

And the all-important topic of doing the right things

Electric Horseman movieDid you ever see the movie, Electric Horseman, starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda? I saw it in Atlanta when it first came out in 1979 and the thing I most remember was the “sad country song” by Willie Nelson in the opening and in the closing scenes. And I’m going to share that song with you later in this blog.

Yesterday, I came across this 1979 movie on TV and watched the best part once again—the last thirty minutes, the part when Sonny (Redford) and Hallie (Fonda) release a champion thoroughbred racehorse (Rising Star) into his natural habitat in the mountains of Colorado.

Doing the right thing. The lesson from the movie is all about compassion and doing the right thing—regardless of the consequences. And that’s exactly what I have been trying to do in this blog for the past 708 consecutive days. I have been trying to put everything in perspective relative to us humans and the rest of the world.

Who owns our planet? There are over a million species of creatures.

Our home began supporting life about four billion years before we humans arrived on the scene.

To begin with, we are “johnny-come-latelies” when it comes to life on our planet. You see, Mother Earth began supporting the first forms of life about four billion years ago. We humans have only been here for about 200,000 years and our numbers have grown exponentially in just the last 200 years—such that we’re now “using” the entire globe at the expense of the environment and all of the other millions of species.

Let me make those numbers a little bit easier to grasp—with a little 6th grade math. If we compress those four billion years into one year, here’s how our ever-so-recent dominance of the planet took place. Imagine if all previous history of the Earth had taken place in just 365 days, here are a few numbers that may surprise you—they did me when I first computed them:

  • Mother Earth has been supporting life for 365 days, and during that time, she has seen many mass extinctions.
  • Human beings came into being during the last 26 minutes of the 365th day.
  • The human population surged from one billion to over seven billion in just the last two seconds of the last minute.

365 days—26 minutes—two seconds!

(for my calculations, see 6th Grade Arithmetic and Food—Not Rocket Science)

E. O. Wilson

E. O. Wilson

What’s my point? Just that we need to pause from time to time and realize that we humans are only a tiny part of the world’s history and a very small part of what’s most important on our planet.

We must realize that the other millions of species were put here for a purpose—and their purpose was not to serve at the pleasure of the human race. I am reminded of a powerful quote by E.O. Wilson On the importance of humans.

If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.

Sonny (Redford) as he steals Rising Star

Sonny (Redford) as he steals Rising Star in Vegas

As for the Electric Horseman, the story is about a 4-time world champion rodeo cowboy who ends up riding a drugged-up, retired champion racehorse (with electric lights) on the stage of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. His job: promoting breakfast cereal for a huge food corporation.

Feeling guilty about what he had become, he decides to set the multi-million-dollar horse free. As it turned out, the massive PR resulting from the highly publicized horse-napping story—powered the company to all-time sales records. But, for all he knew, Sonny Steele was thinking that he might have to go to prison for what he had done.

That’s the way I feel about what I write each day. I am just trying to clarify the “big picture” consequences of our food choices and my style is to just tell it like it is. Some people are offended and I may very well get sued (or worse) someday. But the feeling of somehow making a difference makes it all worthwhile.

Like Sonny in the movie, I am just trying to do the right thing. As for Wilson’s quote above, if we humans suddenly disappeared, the only other species that would be in trouble would be those animals we use for our entertainment—our pets, zoo animals and race horses. Since I connected all those dots during the past few years, I have not been nearly as keen about watching horses race.

8-year old Jim Hicks on his wonderful horse Buttons outside his home in Greenville, Mississippi

9-year old Jim Hicks on his wonderful horse Buttons outside his home in Greenville, Mississippi circa 1954.

And that’s coming from a guy who grew up in semi-rural Mississippi and was privileged to have my very own horse (Buttons, shown here) beginning in the third grade.

But today, I see things differently and I see what we humans have done to our planet—and in so doing, we have compromised her ability to sustain our species longterm. And, as I have said hundreds of times on this blog—without a doubt, the single most powerful step that we could take (in order to return to living in harmony with the rest of nature) would be to move aggressively in the direction of a whole foods, plant-based diet.

The Bottom Line. This blog is not about animal rights; it’s about humankind re-learning how to live in harmony with the rest of the world. No less than our future as a species hangs in the balance. For your convenience, I have provided several of my earlier blogs below that will help to clarify what I am saying.

Willie Nelson singing one of my all-time favorite songs: “My heroes have always been cowboys” — at the beginning and at the end of the movie

Consecutive daily blogs

Consecutive daily blogs

Back to 1979 for a moment. When we left the theater that Sunday afternoon, the melody of that song still lingering in my mind, I turned on the car radio and guess what? Willie began singing that song a la the “Twilight Zone.”

Confession. I have been a huge country music fan for a long time. Used to sneak into the Grand Old Opry at the old Ryman Auditorium in Nashville during my college years at Auburn University. I never saw Willie sing there but later became one of his biggest fans—his Stardust album was background music in our home for many years.

The following five books and one DVD can be purchased on Amazon for a grand total of less than $60—and will enable you to understand the overwhelming challenges we face—along with the single most-powerful solution of all.

Six-Pack from Hicks—for health, hope & harmony on planet Earth

  1. Healthy Eating, Healthy WorldThe “big picture” about food (our book)
  2. A life changer for millions, including James Cameron. Forks Over Knives DVD 
  3. An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell; the primary book that influenced Bill Clinton to adopt a whole food, plant-based diet.
  4. What have we done to our planet? Full Planet, Empty Plates by Lester Brown
  5. A horrifying wake-up call for leaders. TEN BILLION by Dr. Stephen Emmott
  6. Food choices are the primary cause of our environmental problems, yet our world leaders, scientists & experts are Comfortably Unawareby Richard Oppenlander.

Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes 2 or 3 minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, visit our 4Leaf page and also enjoy some great recipes from Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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—J. Morris Hicks, board member since 2012; click banner for more info:

Nutrition Certificate

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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4 Responses to Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Willie Nelson…

  1. elleham says:

    An enjoyable blog – makes me want to see Electric Horseman again -it’s been a long time. How lucky you were to have a horse as a child.

  2. Bernadine T. Shea says:

    Jim, This blog was especially fun & informative! Also, I enjoyed listening to Willie Nelson! Thanks… Bernadine PS Loved the photo of you & Buttons!

  3. carolhicks says:

    Nice to see Buttons and 9 year old Jim again!

  4. Robert Thatcher says:

    Will definitely check out Electric Horseman.

    A great current movie with a message is Samsara (2011 film). It has no words, just incredible images of our planet today (castles in ethiopia, volcanos in Hawaii, dancers in India)….all shot in 70 mm. It captures the lingering beauty we must protect and the world created by man in “these recent minutes” (people living off garbage piles in the Philippines as luxury condos loom in the background.). The director seems to get “the blinding flashof the obvious.” Mid-way through the film come harrowing shots from a dairy, a gestation cage, and chicken processing plant. Another timely sequence showing the process for hand gun manufacture and a very well armed southern family posing as if for a portrait. It’s worth checking out.

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