The worship theme for April is ‘Courage,’ and from a theological and moral perspective, it’s an idea with which one can engage in an endless wrestling match. As we read and hear about the deliberations and actions being taken at the Wyoming State Legislature this term, I find myself wondering if I have the courage to ramp up my public statements, pointing out the obvious: like the moral sovereignty a woman has over her own body does not belong to religious fanatics and political sycophants who claim their moral ground is superior to each woman’s moral and legal sovereignty over her own body.
Or, the paternalistic hypocrisy of entitled white men (and the women who agree with them) who claim Medicare expansion will only encourage those in need to take advantage of ‘free medical care,’ instead of working hard and creating enough of their own wealth to cover their own health care costs. I call this the ‘let them eat cake’ mindset.
Or the sheer stupidity of thinking the billions of dollars in Wyoming’s ‘rainy day fund’ are sacrosanct. And that by closing a handful of public rest stops and laying off the handful of state employees who keep them sanitized is going to even make a micro-blip on the economic radar, much less significantly contribute to balancing the state’s budget.
Or the belief that diverting federal covid relief funds into the coal gasification boondoggle that is supposed to ‘save Wyoming’s fossil fuel industry’ is ethical and somehow meets the needs of local businesses, schools, medical centers, and unemployment claims. While, at the same time, the state is turning over the academic freedom of the University of Wyoming to the fossil fuel boys whose underwriting is turning our university into their own private fossil fuel research center.
As I run the risk of becoming the person who is obsessed with a laundry list of complaints, I have come to the realization that I’m not the one lacking courage – it’s the legislators who do not have the courage. It takes courage to stand up to the career-politicians who exercise way too much behind-the-scenes control in Cheyenne and the deep-pocketed self-severing party donors. I find it very hard to believe this unimaginative, closed-minded, stuck, white-privileged mindset actually represent the majority opinion of Wyoming’s residents.
What I do believe is too many Wyoming citizens also lack the courage to say no and to demand an alternative vision for our state. I also believe I have the courage to continue speaking up because my UU values, as articulated in our principles, are visionary and courageous precisely because they invite each person to engage with them on their own terms and, individually or within community, put these values into action. I do have the courage of my convictions, and when it comes to valuing the democratic process, I am ready and willing to put my inclusive, freedom-based values up against the outdated and imprisoned values which underly Wyoming’s conservative mindset — any day. See you in church!