Well, there’s been a lot of hoopla in the media the last few days due to a bill introduced in the Wyoming State Legislature. I don’t know why, that at this stage in my life, I should be surprised by the kind of reporting and commenting I came across as I tried to find out what the bill was really about.
If I were to believe the headlines, our state legislature was actively looking for an aircraft carrier to purchase. Of course there were lots of snarky comments about where the landlocked state of Wyoming would station an aircraft carrier. The original Star Tribune article stated things correctly: That the bill (HB0085) was to study how the state could potentially deal with potential large scale interruptions in government function, food distribution, and energy supplies.
To study, to look into, to investigate. Given the financial state of this country; 15 trillion in debt and counting, I don’t think that’s so crazy.
The amendment to the Government Continuity Bill HB0085 regarding the aircraft carrier came from Kermit Brown. I don’t know what his comments were, and I can’t seem to find transcripts or video of the discussion online, but the original bill was simply to investigate a ‘Government Continuity Plan’ for the state. By the way, the federal government has already developed a Continuity of Government Commission in 2002.
It may seem funny or strange to some for a state government to discuss these things, but I see something different at play here- and I think it has little to do with tea parties or democrats or republicans or secessionists or zombies. That’s the easy way out. It’s easy to make fun of a group of faceless people, but Wyoming is my home and I see something different taking place.
From the earliest days of humans living in this part of North America, the extremes in climate, rough terrain, scarcity of vegetation, and the migratory nature of the wildlife has forced a certain type of thinking: Adaptability, and the consideration of many scenarios.
The native people were nomadic, moving with the resources, whether that was wildlife or vegetation. They didn’t make a hard and fast plan to be followed by all people at all times. They adjusted with the resources; moved up and down the elevations with the seasons; built moveable shelters; cached what they didn’t think advisable to carry, but someday might need; moved with the weather; split into smaller groups if game was scarce; and never underestimated the unpredictability of life.
When white easterners from rich farmlands of thick topsoil, large tracts of hardwood forests, and abundant rainfall tried to settle in this place called Wyoming, they were in for a shock. Despite the handbills promoting productive farmlands and beliefs that planting trees would cause the climate to change, the land had its way, and the people had to adapt or move away.
Agriculture, including family gardening, commercial farming and stock raising, had to be re-studied, re-visited and re-investigated. What worked in even the drier parts of the Midwest simply wouldn’t work here. Even the way towns and communities were located and developed took on a unique dynamic in the arid west. The people who were successful in building a life here had to think differently than their predecessors who settled the eastern U.S.
Many of those who see the dramatic landscapes and difficulties of this land as something to be embraced- not mocked- still think differently. We aren’t afraid to look down the road at the possibility that the infrastructure and prosperity we enjoy today might not last forever. We aren’t afraid to consider that we might have to rely on our own resources and ingenuity to get through hardship.
We aren’t even afraid of being laughed at.
I’m not sure of Kermit Brown’s reasons for looking into aircraft carriers. I don’t know that I would agree with him, but I’m glad my legislators are willing to discuss the realm of possibilities as they consider the future of our state, because that’s the foundation for a democratic process: To be willing to entertain the idea that we don’t have all knowledge, and be willing to discuss, debate and study an idea we hadn’t thought of ourselves.