Does Our State Have Universal Truths, Fundamental Values?

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The wind is our neighbor. Wind was here first. We deal with it. – Number 14 on the list of fundamental values.

When you talk about Wyoming people or think about our wonderful state, are there specific universal truths and fundamental values that come to mind?

Are they unique to our state and to our people here? I always thought so.

It makes sense to talk about our truths and values in a column at the beginning of a new year.

My quest to identify them started when I ran for state office back in 2002.  It seemed like a good idea then if I could identify them. This quest became a much bigger task than I thought it would be.

For example, it might be argued that many people of our state really live within spheres of influence in neighbor metro areas such as Denver, Salt Lake City, Billings, Idaho Falls and Rapid City.

With all that distraction, what is it that ties us all together besides rooting for our football team? I might suggest some unique truths and values.

Do folks living on our state’s borders who find themselves traveling to Denver or Billings for just about everything, well, do they feel the same kinship with someone from Casper or Lander or Buffalo or Douglas?

In my search I came to the conclusion that yes, these truths and values do matter.  And they are conclusive. Wyoming people understand these concepts. Here are my lists of truths and values:

Wyoming Universal truths

  1. Wyoming’s economy will be based on commodity values of minerals for decades to come and thus will be vulnerable to the ups and downs of worldwide prices for energy.
  2. Wyoming’s future is intertwined with the desires of the people running the federal government since the people of the United States through federal agencies administer about half of the state’s land mass.
  3. Because of low population, long distance and some degree of isolation, Wyoming’s people have unique character traits. We celebrate the individuality of our people.
  4. In Wyoming, people dream.  They dream big. Hope and entrepreneurship is alive. The power of an idea is important. 
  5. Often we are alone, but we are not lonely.
  6. The idea of equality is celebrated in Wyoming although occasionally not practiced enough or at all.
  7. Wyoming's people have always lived off its land -- its wild animals, forests, agriculture, minerals and scenery.  Since Territorial days we have exported our products and invited tourists to enjoy our unique blessings. 
  8. Despite being town dwellers or California imports, we will always be the Cowboy State.

Wyoming Fundamental Values

  1. The concept that small is good means more here.
  2. We celebrate clean air, clean water and a clean environment.
  3. As an entrepreneurial people, we believe in being persistent. We believe that anything worth doing is worth doing over and over with the goal that if we keep on trying, we will get it right.
  4. Our government is one of the most open in the United States. Our elected officials are among the most accessible. We celebrate that.
  5. Equality in opportunity and the power of the individual are celebrated in Wyoming.
  6. Wyoming people believe in being polite. We help out the needy. We wave at people we don’t know.
  7. Wyoming people appreciate good health.
  8. Water is perhaps our most valuable resource. Its value is never over-rated.
  9. In a place often described as a small city with extremely long streets – well, we appreciate our good roads.
  10. We cherish our pioneers and our veterans. We thank them for what they have done for our state.
  11. Hope for the future is alive in Wyoming. We call it a child.
  12. No place in the lower 48 states has the wildlife that Wyoming has – we celebrate the diversity of our animals and plants.
  13. Wyoming people appreciate seasons.  And dawns and sunsets. Big storms and lightning-quick changes in the weather.
  14. The wind is our neighbor. Wind was here first. We deal with it.
  15. We have learned that the way to deal with power is to share it, not hoard it.
  16. We do not drive by a stranded traveler on our back roads.
  17. Truth and trust are fundamental in our society. My word is my bond. You can trust my handshake.
  18. All else being equal, we must be fair.
  19. We are a God-fearing people. We celebrate our religious beliefs.

Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at www.billsniffin.com.  He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written six books. His newest is “Wyoming at 125,” which is now on sale at fine bookstores. His books are available at www.wyomingwonders.com.