A curious case of shoulder chip

It was not the first time I had heard a disgruntled resident voice a similar sentiment. It certainly won’t be the last. It’s common enough to address this week with an inquiry on my part.

What is it?

It’s the Fargo rivalry/resentment thing.

This is how it tends to manifest in my work. A resident is expressing his dislike of a new local policy and gets around to saying “just because that’s how they do it in Fargo doesn’t mean we have to do it that way here.”

I heave heard that a lot. Honestly, I have heard that in reference to situations that have nothing to do with Fargo policy. Furthermore, I have heard it expressed in other ways – a resentment of the state’s largest city, bordering on contempt, which, of course, tends to candy-coat jealousy, although you’ll never hear me say that out loud.

So, since readers graciously offer to help me continue acclimating myself to Minot, lend me a hand here.

What gives?

Let me say that I have zero Fargo experience. I passed through once. I know what I have read and been told. From this, I understand that Fargo has been growing, redeveloping and changing in recent years. I also understand that its newfound urbanity rubs many in North Dakota the wrong way, and this seems particularly true of people in Minot – especially those who are doggedly resistant to change.

That’s pretty much the extent of my understanding. It isn’t for lack of trying. I’ve inquired as to what it is that Fargo does or represents that so irks some in Minot, but I haven’t really gotten much helpful insight. It embraces the new. OK. It also has a disproportionate influence in the state Legislature, I am told.

That’s about all the explanation I have yet received.

While I await some enlightenment on this topic, I will address the reasoning I have heard to date.

I would assume that Fargo does wield considerable influence in state government, given its population and growth trend. That only makes sense really. National resources flow to where the people are, so the same pattern would only make sense at the state level. Is it too much? Does the Legislature focus so much attention on Fargo that it is to the detriment of Minot? I don’t know, nor has anyone presented a specific example. I would be curious to see if there is.

Now, Fargo has done some things right as I understand it. I can see why some folks here might get a little tired of being compared in a negative light to Fargo – assuming that happens, and I bet it does. What I can’t fathom is this tone I have gotten from some, which breaks down to something like this: Just because Fargo did that doesn’t mean we should. In fact, we shouldn’t. This isn’t Fargo and we aren’t going to do things that way, even if it means our town dries up and becomes history.

That’s it – that’s what I hear in some folks’ comments: defeatism.

A lesson I learned from my parents as a kid is a cornerstone of my personal principles. That is, it is counter-productive and immoral to resent your neighbor who has become hugely wealthy and successful. Instead, you should respect the neighbor and try to learn the secrets of his success that you can adopt and use for yourself.

It isn’t emulation. It’s reasoned study, evaluation and personal development.

Should we not observe Fargo the same way? We certainly don’t want to become Fargo, as Minot has its own identity. But if they are doing something right there, isn’t rejecting it off-hand every bit as absurd as adopting it thoughtlessly?

Am I missing something? If so, I would like to hear from you. I’ve learned tons from readers and residents the past year, so I am hoping someone can explain this to me.