State's leaders are more interested in exploiting the things that make the Cowboy State great than in honoring and taking care of them.
By Rodger McDaniel
The Gospel says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
So, if we find what Wyoming treasures, shouldn’t we also find her heart?
What is “heart”? The Hebrew prophet Samuel said heart
|The Red Desert is one of Wyoming's geological treasures.|
So where is Wyoming’s treasure? You have to know where to look, and you have to conduct an honest search.
If you walk the trails across our mountains, wilderness areas, forests or the Red Desert, you’d tell those who’ve never done so that Wyoming’s treasures are to be found there. Head for the Wyoming state tourism websites and find treasure in our national and state parks, monuments, scenic waterways, landscapes and historic sites.
Strolling through a Wyoming art gallery, you will conclude the state’s treasures are its mountains and plains, its wide-open skies and open spaces, the wildlife, rivers and rural values.
Visit South Pass City, Carbon or Winton, or any other of the many Wyoming ghost towns and feel the treasure of the lives of the people and families, mostly first-generation immigrants, who once lived there. They raised children, mined coal and other wealth and watched their fellow miners live and die to help build a state that cared more for what was brought out of the holes than those who went into them.
Note the miner’s and farmer’s image at the center of the state seal or the sculpture of the oil field worker as you drive into Casper from Douglas, and you’d think the heart of Wyoming is the working men and women whose blood, sweat and tears built the state. Visit Heart Mountain, where treasure is found in teaching one generation about the failures of another.
Any number of people will tell you Wyoming’s treasure is young people. They’ll say they are Wyoming’s future.
Walk through the state museum or any of the other wonderful places that collect memories of Wyoming. Wyoming’s treasure, they would say, is its storied past, taught to school kids every day. Heroic pioneers, trappers, Native Americans, explorers, working men and women. Each of those museums touts the great history of women’s suffrage and times we wish had been different, such as Heart Mountain.
If you relied on the state’s motto, you’d be led to believe Wyoming treasured equal rights for all citizens. That matters because when you are intentional about getting to know the real people of the state, you find surprising treasure in their diversity, treasure worthy of protection.
Much of their diversity can be found in their places of worship or choices not to worship. Yes, a lot of them are Christians, but even they are a diverse lot. Genuine treasure is found in learning more about the Jewish communities, the Quakers, Unitarians, Buddhists, the Bahá’ís, Muslims, and others, as well as the atheists, skeptics and agnostics.
So then, why are these values not reflected in Wyoming’s politics? Why do Wyoming’s public officials defy Jesus’ claim that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”?
Most politicians are willing to sacrifice Wyoming’s environmental treasures to mining and drilling. Some want protected federal lands conveyed to the state so they may be developed. Statues proclaiming the contributions of working people have diminished meaning when compared to statutes that allow for their exploitation. The state’s budget reflects little concern for the poor, elderly, and struggling middle-class families and their children.
Claims made by the state motto are mocked by the gender wage gap and the failure of the Legislature to protect diverse communities from job-based prejudice.
Imagine what Wyoming could be if where her treasure is, there her heart would also be.
Rodger McDaniel is the pastor at Highlands Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne. He resides in Laramie.