By Rod Miller, columnist
Niccolo Machiavelli, a 15th Century Florentine version of Steve Bannon, wrote “The Prince” as a memo to Lorenzo di Medici about how to manage his city-state. Its from this book that we get political truisms like, “the end justifies the means”, and “its better to be feared than loved”.
Machiavelli also advised “Il Magnifico” (Lorenzo’s street name) about how a political leader should deal with change. He warned of the dangers of initiating change in the affairs of men; how the reformer would find few friends and many enemies.
The new order of things has few champions because it is…..well, new. The old order has many defenders because it benefited them over time.
Machiavelli’s advice, therefore, was, “Whoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.”
That’s good advice for us in Wyoming today.
Change is pretty arrogant stuff. It doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether we like it or not, it just keeps on a comin’. In fact, I’m not sure that it even realizes that we are here.
Plastered across the back bar of several of the better cowboy dives in the 307, right next to the Bud Light tap and the two-headed calf, you’ll see a bumper sticker in Brown & Gold proudly proclaiming, “Wyoming: Resisting Change Since 1890”. Bullshit!
Wyoming has been ADAPTING TO change since before we became a state. Our shared history is a continuum of change. We couldn’t have survived otherwise.
What provoked this rant is the cacophony of voices today whining about this place changing. You’ve heard them, too…whispered or shouted.
People who look different are coming here with different ideas and scaring hell out of some folks. Old, comforting touchstones are dying of age or economic entropy, and the landscape is starting to look unfamiliar.
Change is coming. Like it always has, like it always will. It will laugh, like it always does, at our attempts to prevent it. Even in a place like Wyoming.
Despite our rah-rah slogans, we have always been adapting to change here, not preventing it. Change has come at us like waves over the years…railroads, cows, coal, oil & gas, windmills (the electric kind) and tattooed girls who hand you your coffee.
We’ve seen barbed wire, crossbred cows, windmills (the give-a-cow-a-drink kind), John Deere tractors, television and other threats that we thought would bring the world as we know it to an end. We have weathered Democrats and Republicans.
And we’re still here. We survived.
We didn’t didn’t survive by resisting or preventing change. We survived by adapting to it, whether we like it or not.
And yet there are the whispers when two women are seen holding hands, or the “wrong” book shows up on the library shelf, or the “wrong” candidate gets elected….whispers like “this used to be such a good place. ” and ”our Wyoming values are changing”.
I wonder how many times in history Wyoming’s citizens have whispered the same thing when confronted with a threatening change. I don’t believe we are the first.
Wyoming values must be very resilient indeed to survive this long through so many uncertain times. We should be grateful that we possess them when we see new neighbors moving in with out-of-state plates, when we see multi-colored couples wearing Brown & Gold and when our favorite watering hole starts selling hippie beer.
We should celebrate our Wyoming values that have survived so much change to get us to our own point in history.