Commentary by Eugene Paslov: Three acts of faith

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One should always reflect on acts of faith. It's difficult, but I recently witnessed three.

The first concerns my brother-in-law, Dan. He's a gentle giant - 6-feet tall, 300 pounds with a fierce facial expression but a gentle spirit - a 67-year-old, autistic, mentally disabled man. Dan is able to travel by himself and can care for himself with some assistance. He lives near his brother in Charlottesville, Va., and comes to visit Susan and me every year or so.

This year we acquired a dog. Our dog is an adult male springer spaniel. He's a rescue animal and had been abused as a puppy. He was angry and fearful. He had nipped me, Susan, our two grandchildren and the vet. Euphemistically, he's designated "unfriendly." We're working on it and making significant improvements, but I was worried about how "Robbie" would react to Dan. We were thinking about putting the dog in a kennel.

What happened next was remarkable. Dan came in the front door. Robbie jumped up on him, but immediately looked into Dan's eyes, rolled over on his back for a friendly belly rub - his dog's way of saying, "I can see you're not going to hurt me. I trust you." A moment of faith, trust between an animal and a man, both of whom were seeking a couplet of faith and trust.

I was struck by another expression of faith. The Reverend Bill McCord (retired Methodist minister and former combat Marine) on Father's Day reminded us of the historical Christian conflict about the nature of Jesus and the complex relationship between men and their fathers. The tensions between fathers and sons are complex, thousands of years old.

The Rev. McCord also related his Korean War experiences. He had dehumanized the enemy. And he killed them. Now he's a man of peace, a man of faith, calling for the end of war, seeking nonviolent ways to resolve our differences. He's like many combat vets who have seen, faced and caused death. For years he has stood in front of the Nevada Legislature every Monday calling for all of us to find faith and trust. To find an end to war. To seek peace.

Finally, Janice Ayres recently spoke out against those who would destroy Medicare and Social Security. She was attacked by right wing ideologues who care nothing about the elderly. Ms. Ayres spoke truth to power.

Letters to the editor are now appearing supporting Ms. Ayres. I find hope in this community's expression of faith and trust in a valued commentator. We should thank Janice for her courage, for her faith and trust in government systems that help all of us.

• Eugene T. Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.


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