May 5, 2016

Have faith

It seems that refugees are all anyone is talking about in Rutland.
Beyond a simple statement in support of the effort, I’ve largely listened over the past few days. I didn’t want to add to the cacophony of refugee discussion without taking the time to collect my thoughts and express them simply and clearly.
As a result, I’ve been asked my opinion dozens of times. It is based on the incredible lessons taught to me by my family, and the gratitude I have for the fact that I live, work and play in one of the most beautiful places on earth, in a community that has rallied around those in need for generations.
When my grandfather, an Irish immigrant, died in 1929, leaving a large family and a wife pregnant with twins, Rutlanders rallied to their aid. Jobs were provided. Help was given. The family endured and blossomed thanks to untold numbers who helped them.
I believe we should rally around those in even greater need now.
After I attended Catechism as a kid, I often went to the courthouse where my dad was a judge. I watched court hearings while I waited for a ride home. I saw lawyers and clerks, defendants and crime victims, people facing their worst days.
They were often in trouble with the law—some scared, penniless and unemployed. My father treated each person with the same abiding respect, whether a high-priced attorney, a scared victim or a person left homeless by alcohol or bad fortune.
I believe we should treat each other, whether a current neighbor or a new American who is scared and penniless, with that same respect.
When I was really little, I was briefly scared of the dark. Like lots of parents, mine taught me it didn’t take much to overcome my fright—simply turn on the light and I could see there was nothing to fear.
I believe we should confront and overcome our fears, whatever they might be.
My parents were devout Catholics, and they faced the prejudice many Catholics faced in Vermont two generations ago. Among their friends when I was a child were a local rabbi and a bishop. I was in awe of these men, who with my father engaged in spirited discussions about religion in our living room. Despite their differences, they demonstrated unwavering compassion for others, and a deep faith in humanity.
I believe we should demonstrate that same compassion for others, and faith in our community.
My mother used to volunteer for so many nonprofits, I often lost track. She raised money or volunteered for the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the local PTA, the Bishop’s Fund, and many others. She taught me that our own blessings carry a moral obligation to help those in need.
I believe we should embrace that obligation now, just as the greater Rutland community has done over the years through personal assistance to people in need, food drives and blood drives, and the response to Hurricane Irene. I am personally committed to doing just that.
Steve Costello
Rutland Town

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