Compassion is the best way forward


“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ─Lao Tzu

The path to enlightenment, whether it is social or spiritual, can be an onerous journey. It is filled with lessons that can be compared to the difficulty of earning a doctorate. It requires exposure to an inordinate amount of information and time to study, process, learn, and grow through practice. 

Additionally, there is an enormous social awareness movement underway to which some folks remain out of touch for various reasons. Others are only embarking on the first step of this journey of a thousand miles. May we each practice patience, kindness, and compassion for those who stumble in darkness and become beacons of light for all. 

Until he threw his hat into the ring for an open Selectboard position, friend and neighbor Ray Marcoux’s world revolved around work and family. The only time I have ever seen Ray out in town was for our 25th class reunion. In essence, Ray’s cultural “awareness” ended at the edge of the road in front of his home. Until last week, the current social-awareness movement was not a part of Ray’s daily life. 

Now that Ray is coming under public scrutiny, I ask for patience, understanding, and compassion during my friend’s transition from private to public figure in Brandon.

“The things you do and the practices you were taught inform who you become. Culture is a broad term that encompasses beliefs, values, norms, behaviors, and overall can be understood as our ‘way of being.’” (Source:

This is meant to be a gentle reminder that there is more than one “way of being” in our small town. Life is different on the other side of the tracks. Neither Ray nor the rest of us are exactly rubbing elbows with Bill Moore in the Town Hall on a regular basis, yet. In fact, Ray’s first view of the interior of the Town Hall may very well have been at the town Planning Commission meeting. But God bless Ray for getting involved and attempting to make a difference for the working-class folks and low-income residents in town. He is at least stepping up.

Ray is a good person. He simply comes from a different culture than most persons are used to encountering or expect to see uptown. Without places like Desi’s and LaDuke’s, this culture may be no longer visible uptown, but it still exists. To deny its existence is to deny a part of our broader community.

Ray has bravely stepped out of his comfort zone. Not only that, but he is a trusting person. It seems he believed his Facebook page was private—only to be shared with friends and family—persons he did trust and expected to understand his brand of humor. Therefore, Ray is also dealing with the feeling of betrayal. Rather than a friend enlightening him privately to his unintended faux pas, he was shamed publicly. 

May we all strive to give him the time, space, and support for healing in addition to assimilating his response to what is not only a shock for area newcomers, but for him as well. May we each seek to embrace the humanness in Ray that we seek to embrace in other cultures. May our reaction be an encouragement to others who wish to follow in Ray’s footsteps and get involved.

None of this is easy for anyone, particularly those who have been deeply hurt inadvertently. May compassion and hope for all be our guide in the days ahead. 

Thank you, Ray, for sticking your neck out for the likes of me, my mother, and others like us. We love, support, forgive, and wait patiently. May you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and stay the course of advocating for the low-income in our community. 

My thanks to Steven Jupiter also for clarifying matters and helping me craft this letter in support of our neighbor, Ray.


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