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The Wasatch Front just doesn't get it

By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

If there is a reason rural Utahns often feel left out of things, its got to do with the fact that the Wasatch Front just doesn't get what the rural parts of our state are really about.

A few weeks ago I had the chance to see "Saturday's Voyeur" a production that the Salt Lake Acting Company puts on each year in an old church, turned into a theater west of the Utah State Capitol Building. It wasn't my first time seeing this yearly production, nor, hopefully will it be my last. You see "Saturday's Voyeur" makes fun of almost everything in Utah from the past year, particularly conservative things, although this year they did take a couple of zings at Democrats in the state as well. It has a decided liberal wavelength, with the writers almost always taking issue with the state's standard targets for those of the left leaning persuasion (the Mormon Church, conservative politicians, liquor laws, guns, etc.)

The writing of the script for the performance comes right from the news that we see on television and read in the large statewide newspapers. Therefore, to a large extent, the ideas toward how it is created are already skewed, but that's another subject.

I went with a friend of mine who is a member of the Sierra Club, has pretty liberal views on many things, but someone that I have also introduced to ATV riding.

In a way watching "Saturday's Voyeur" is a lot like reading the reader's comments on articles in the Salt Lake Tribune or the Deseret News. If there is any controversy in the article the comments usually degenerate fairly quickly into Mormon vs. non-Mormon, Democrat vs Republican, drinkers vs. non-drinkers, green jello lovers vs non-green jello lovers, etc. You get the idea.

If you decide to go to the performance, you need to decidedly learn to laugh at yourself and your own society, particularly if you are from the rural part of the state. This year's edition was particularly full of slings at rural Utah, or more to the point, the people of rural Utah.

We who live here in the rural part of the state need to accept that many along the west side of the Wasatch think we are a bunch of hicks. Sure some of them have roots in our area, but there are a lot more that are so removed from those roots or never had them at all, that they think anything south of Payson (with the exception of St. George) and north of Brigham City (with the exception of Logan) and east of Park City or west of Tooele is full of people with IQ's of 55, who shoot everything that moves, drive four wheelers all over the countryside and are generally lawless when it comes to things Wasatch Fronters think are important.

"Saturday's Voyeur" is a symptom of the kind of thinking we see every day when those from another place judge those who live differently than they do. Certainly we have all done it too. For instance, most of us picture the poor of Africa as living in small rural villages with few clothes and having to hunt for dinner every night. While not completely untrue, Africa has a lot of large urban areas where ghettos house many more poor people, many of whom have never known a rural lifestyle.

Back to us and the Wasatcher's views of us. I know first hand how it is. I grew up in a relatively rural area of Salt Lake when it was a much smaller town, but I remember thinking as a youngster how much better we were because we lived near the city. I had attitudes that didn't even change when I spent a lot of time in rural Utah recreating. It took me moving first to LaVerkin, then here a few years later to recognize my inaccurate and biased views. Now having been here almost 20 years, I understand the struggles of communities like we have in eastern Utah; places that supply fun, energy and travel convenience for the Wasatchers, but are little regarded in any other ways than to say "we want you to remain rural and depressed so we can pay low prices for lodging, meals and our energy."

Most along the Wasatch Front don't even realize their attitudes toward those that live outside the large population zones. But apathy about us, which is what many of them have, is just as bad as having a negative bias. We need an education process that each and every one of us must participate in when we either meet someone from the Wasatch Front or travel there and talk with them. If we give them negative, they will see negative. All of us need to be sales people for our area, our industries, our attractions and our way of life.

It really is up to us; no one else can do it effectively.




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