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Cowboy UP?

WYO state flag

As residents of Wyoming we are known to be proud, tough, rugged, but fair. We have adopted the nickname of the “Cowboy State,” we are known as the “Equality State,” and we fly a Flag consisting of three important symbols – a Buffalo, the Wyoming State Seal, and the symbolic colors of Red, White, and Blue.
“The red, white, and blue colors of the state flag are the same as those of the national flag. The red on the border is a symbol of the native Americans who inhabited Wyoming long before settlers came, and also represents the blood of pioneers who gave their lives to claim the soil. White is a symbol for the purity and uprightness of Wyoming. Blue is for Wyoming’s sky and mountains, and is also a symbol of fidelity, justice and virility.”
Is this really what we deserve to call ourselves right now? Does Wyoming hold true to its seal? To the nickname the “Cowboy State”? Do those colors mean nothing? Are we buffalo? Or have we become cows, sheep, or prairie dogs? Do we run through challenging times or do we run away? Do we follow the herd or think for ourselves and take a different path? Do we hide, or do we accept reality and fight.

Since I was a young boy, I wanted to live in Wyoming. I loved the landscape, the wilderness, the people, and what the state stood for (in values). The state has always resonated with who I am. It is a place where I choose to raise my kids, and it is where I am proud to call home. However, it’s time to call a spade a spade, and talk about the mask that Wyoming is wearing. The catchy slogans, the Buffalo we fly proudly, and the Seal that is supposed to mean something appears to be a cloak of deceit.
Look around our state. Are we all being treated equal? Are we being true to our State Seal? Or are we prioritizing one life over another? Is the man or woman NOT wearing a mask because they are young, healthy, and asymptomatic treated the same way a compliant mask wearer is? Why is there a press release for every Coronavirus death, yet few of us are aware that two weeks ago, we lost 5 Laramie county residents, in a matter of days, to suicide? Let’s face the facts, we are not equal. You will never be treated equal, and you will be shamed by the majority, including the Mayor and Governor for not wearing a mask. You cannot and should not judge someone by the color of their skin, but you can and should if you can see their mouth and nose. The lamps upon the pillars in our Seal represent the light of knowledge. Are we using knowledge right now? Are we using what we know about the current situation and someone’s current health status to make educated decisions? Or are we making decisions based on fear, panic, and what others will think of us?
Should we continue to say “cowboy up” in regards to tough times? I think we have lost that privilege. This implies that when we get bucked off we bounce back up, dust off our jeans, grab our hat with a smile, and keep on riding. It doesn’t imply we cover our faces, hide behind our horses and cross our fingers for another shot. Let’s face it, we have not “cowboyed up” in 8 months. In March and April, when “numbers” were almost nonexistent compared to the rest of the nation, we stuck our head in a hole and hid. We could have been more intelligent. “Flattening the curve” back then is why we are in the situation we are in now (hate to say, “We told you so”).

In Wyoming, we are proud of our history, we are proud of our land, and we brag about our grit. Is this not why we fly a buffalo high and proud in the sky and have adopted the American Bison as our state mammal. I think few realize how symbolic this is. If we are going to fly a buffalo in the blue Wyoming sky, I think we have to live up to its reputation. Did we choose this animal with intention? Are we strong, powerful, and durable? Do we charge the storm like buffalo do, or do we run away like a cow?

What is the difference between a buffalo and cow? When Nature shows her dark side and brings in a terrible storm, both animals sense this. As the storm rolls in from the West heading East, the cows will try to out-run it. Eventually the storm catches them, as the cow continues heading East with the storm it stays with them longer and they suffer more.
What does the buffalo do? When they sense the storm, they charge it. They run directly into the storm! The storm is moving to the East, they are moving West, and they get through to the other side as fast as possible. Because of their bravery, the storm blows over the top of them and they suffer less. Do we deserve the buffalo, or with our current leadership should we fly a cow. Or should we fly our flag half staff to represent the death of our supposed Wyoming beliefs and values. A mentor once informed me, “Your stand is your brand” and we chose the Buffalo as our brand.

We’ve had the opportunity to “charge the storm” and we didn’t. Instead we ran, and now the storm has caught up with us. What are we going to do? We can continue to suffer the storm running the same direction or we can choose to change directions and charge through it. This virus will be here tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. We cannot hide, we cannot run, and we will not kill it. The mask is delaying the inevitable and at some point we will have to face this storm. Nature can be a bad S.O.B., which is unfortunate, but it is reality. Please, do not miss the forest for the trees. There is a virus, and there will be many more, but how we respond to it will determine our future health and species’ survival. With our current trajectory, ALL causes of death will go up, ALL sicknesses will increase, and the years we have spent trying to unite will be destroyed, possibly beyond repair.

We have explained the downstream health consequences that the pandemic response will bring multiple times, yet, unfortunately, the individuals making the decisions will not acknowledge it. We have fought tirelessly for the FUTURE health of you and your children, and we will never stop. Currently there is talk of mask mandates in Laramie County; this is a battle cry that will hopefully convince the “decision-makers” to change direction based on Wyoming values and who we claim to be, since plain logic and data doesn’t seem to be enough. We have to acknowledge the mask for what it is… A contradiction to Wyoming values. “Our level of destruction will be proportionate to our level of contradiction.” Please don’t destroy Wyoming. If we are lost about what to do, then maybe we should make decisions based on our core values.
“Wyoming is where the untamed spirit of the West and majestic natural beauty open your mind and invigorate your senses to release your own innerfreedom and sense of adventure.”
In health & hope,
Dr. Marley Smith DC CACCP

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