Shared Sacrifice

Shared Sacrifice

Kelly Salasin, Vermont, July 2011

As I listen to the Senator from Vermont address the budget issue with calls for “shared sacrifice,” I wonder how such a compassionate nation can be so careless with those we claim to care about the most.

It’s amazing to me just how many of my liberal and conservative Facebook friends will join together in a frenzy around the heartbreak of a child’s life taken–without recognizing that what happens in DC every day–affects many, many more children, just as heartbreakingly.

Where is our compassion and outrage as child abuse rises?

  • US: Economic stress drives rise in child abuse and domestic violence

  • Social service agencies across the US are seeing growing numbers of cases of domestic violence and child abuse.

  • Shaken baby cases on the increase

  • Specialists link rise to economic stress

  • Rise in Child Abuse Called National ‘Epidemic’

How is it that we continue to prioritize profit and gain while claiming to care so much about the American family?

  • In 2009, Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits, paid no federal income taxes and received a $156 million rebate from the IRS.
  • Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year, even though it made $10 billion in profits in 2009.
  • Corporate tax revenue in 2010 was 27% smaller than 2000, even though corporate profits are up 60% over the last decade.
  • General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the US over the past 5 years and, thanks to loopholes, paid no taxes.
  • In 2005, 1 out of 4 large corporations paid no income taxes even though they collected $1.1 trillion in revenue over that year.

How do we allow our  budget to be balanced “on the backs of the weak and the vulnerable“–while decrying the violence in Norway?

  •  “One of worst proposals on how to reduce red ink came from a group of senators calling themselves the Gang of Six. They want massive cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and virtually every program important to working families, the sick, the elderly, the children and the poor.”

Though he is a Senator from Vermont, my Facebook friend from New Jersey captured Senator Sander’s call for “shared sacrifice” best:

“Bernie, at least, still has–us–as his focus.

Thanks to Vermont for speaking for all of us regular people!”

May all of us “regular people” join our voices with Bernie’s and be heard!


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Once Upon a Time…

Once Upon a Time…

welcometovermontThere was a single lucid moment in the month of May, 1993, when desperation fused with destiny and our dream to move to the mountains was winged.

Two weeks earlier, I lost our first baby at the end of the first trimester. Suddenly the good jobs, the benefits, the proximity to family, even the sea, lost its hold on us.

In one feverish week, we blanketed the Green Mountain State with our resumes, asking: Will you have us?

A lone school in a small town answered back.

Although its name lacked the kind of charm we’d hoped for (bringing to mind the huge metropolis in Delaware), we were relieved find Wilmington in our atlas in the southern most part of the state; which to our minds meant less winter. (We had yet to realize that Mount Snow was its closest neighbor.)

We spent the weekend before my interview at my husband grandmother’s place in Adams, Massachusetts. Over the years, we’d looked forward to our long weekends in the Berkshires, soaking up the view of Mount Greylock from Anna’s kitchen at the top of Anthony Street; and the occasional, flirtatious jaunts into nearby Vermont. While we never spent very long in the Green Mountain State, it stirred something inside us. Vermont was planting a seed.

That seed sat dormant until a handful of years later when my sister-in-law suggested we check out the hip town of Brattleboro. Though it wasn’t love at first sight, we did decide to drive across the state, on its southern most route, and came across  a quaint, snowy village with beautiful little shops.

“This is the kind of place we could live!” we both agreed, though we never looked any further into it, because when we returned home to the shore, another dream had been realized.

A simple two lines and our attention immediately shifted from adventure to nesting. We even began to look for a house at the beach, something we had long avoided for fear we’d never leave for the mountains. We put on our name on the home daycare waiting list. We found something called a midwife. I bought lots of books. My bought a stuffed bunny. My  mother in law a tiny pair of moccasins.

Thus I return to the beginning of this tale when one of the most excruciating losses of lives gave wings to a dream that keeps on giving.

The day that we pulled into town for my interview at Deerfield Valley Elementary, we had no recollection of ever seeing Wilmington before. Perhaps our minds were preoccupied with how much depended on this day. Perhaps the seasons here transformed everything. It was  a lush early June now, and it had been snowy February then. More than likely, it was also that our entire beings had been transformed in the sixth months since we’d passed through this place–at once thrust into the prospect of parenthood and all the space that this shapes, then abruptly regurgitated… back to the beginning, to start our lives anew.

We returned to Vermont with clear eyes.

Approaching Wilmington, this time from the west, our awareness moved from the village to the valley itself–greeted first by the Deerfield River whose strength is harnessed to provide energy for Vermont, and then by the great Harriman Reservoir where once the town of Medburyville thrived.

We felt the embrace of this narrow valley, cradled within its hillsides, its fields and woodlands. The welcome continued as we traveled up Route 100 to a greater expanse of sky and view, past the North Branch of the river in its quiet repose alongside the handsome Wheeler Farm.

Our broken hearts began to stir…

As we pulled into the parking lot at the school, we realized that we had seen it once before, many, many years earlier. We had even stopped to say how “right” it looked and how nice it would be to work a place like this, nestled in the woods as it was. My younger sister was at New England college at the time, and on one of trips up to the Berkshires, suggested we meet somewhere in between–to ski–at a place called Mount Snow.

There in the school parking lot among the trees and mountains and streams of Vermont, we broke into wondrous laughter. Fate’s hand played.

Despite 199 other applicants, I was hired. Soon after my husband and I settled into in a little farm house by the woods (an answer to another dream, long forgotten inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder.)

A year later we conceived a child who became our first son.

We lived happily ever after…

Well, it wasn’t that simple.

There were realtors and bears and woodstoves, and lots and lots of snow.

And of course, there is always more dreams to dream and losses to bear.

But once upon a time, we asked Vermont if she would have us, and she resoundingly replied, “Yes!”