Fortunate To Live Where We Do

Opinion / Jun. 25, 2015 3:07pm EDT

When you live in a small town it is easy to lose touch with the bigger world picture—global events, economy crises, scientific breakthroughs, philanthropic endeavors, natural disasters, the avant garde, and all the humanistic relations that make up the marrow of culture and society.

Some folks move to small towns to escape the overstimulation of living among larger populations, fed up with being a number, or just wanting or needing a break from the race they got caught up in. Some want a quiet, safe place where everyone is a neighbor and knows their name—a place that seems practical and grounded, and a decent environment to raise children.

And of course, there are some who simply can’t imagine ever living elsewhere, and who are happy and content being where they are and knowing what they know, carrying on the heritage and stories for future generations.

When I consider the reasons I had for moving from a city with a population of about 70,000 to Chelsea, with a population of just over a thousand, I admit I was the one seeking isolation and peace from the struggles and burdens of city living. And it was a romantic notion, for both my partner and me to believe we were freeing ourselves and simplifying our lives, being so willing to give up the urban conveniences and energy, the cultural accessibility and diversity, to relocate to a community with a rich rural history and down -to-earth ethic.

We got our bearings and settled in. We met people who considered themselves true Chelsea-ites, and traded advice with other transplants like ourselves, who migrated from various corners and countries to this place we all now share.

Living together, among our smaller population, individuals stand out with our different lifestyles, preferences and beliefs. But as a population, we have a common and invested interest in the community that we are and can be proud of. We wouldn’t trade it, and it will always seem beautiful in our eyes.

That’s why when I heard about the recent violence in Charleston, S.C. last week it had a sobering effect on me. Not only did such an act of terror break my heart—a human being killing other human beings— but it shook me awake, reminding me that no matter how safe and protected we think we are and try to be, even a church or Eden or a small town in central Vermont is not immune to the unpredictable nature of things.

The unknown is that which we don’t have control over, and for many the uncontrollable is our biggest source of fear. To reflect on the relationships and everyday interactions we have—how we can be kinder, more accepting and respectful, is to appreciate the differences that set us apart, as well as the experiences that bring us together.

I wish I had it in me this week to write a profile or highlight an event in town that was newsworthy, but I just couldn’t look over the suffering of others as though it doesn’t affect us in any way. Syria, Libya, Myanmar, Mexico, Ukraine, Charleston, Connecticut. When we bear witness to the pain of others, let it resonate as lessons on how to be better human beings. Let us have trust and understanding, and promote peace in any way we can. And let us possess helping hands and opens hearts, especially if it tests our comforts and perspectives.

No one should have to live in fear or in harm’s way. Yet the reality is many people do, every day, all over this world. So, when we look around our quaint, little town day to day and think “Man, we’re fortunate to live where we live,” remember too that encouraging humanity for all people could very possibly begin on a small scale.

Sarah Caouette,

Chelsea

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