Unfortunate coverage of Bangor High School tragedy

I find it most unfortunate that the BDN chose to run yet another front page story surrounding the issues of the recent tragedy at Bangor High School. It can only bring added pain to all involved. As a forever parent, a former teacher and a former school board member, I stand fully behind the staff and administration of Bangor High School.

Elizabeth S. Brand


Our folly in Afghanistan

I want to commend the BDN for devoting two pages of valuable space to reprinting the story from the Washington Post about the report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction detailing the abject failure of America’s 18-year war in that country, as assayed by the people who fought it, and how the leadership of three administrations has consistently misled the public about the outcome of that conflict.

Sadly, my conclusion is that the root cause of all this malfeasance is the desire on the part of our politicians — both executive and legislative — as well as senior military, to avoid the personal embarrassment of admitting failure. The results? Nearly 2,500 American service deaths, more than 20,000 wounded and more than $1 trillion of taxpayer dollars wasted, with nothing to show for it.

At a minimum, this should cause young men and women considering a military career to wonder if they will be signing up to be sent on yet another fool’s errand. And what, one might ask, could the country have done with that wasted trillion dollars if spent on schools and highways here at home?

The military industrial complex has a lot to answer for to civil society. This report serves as just the latest accounting of a war (much as did the Pentagon Papers in a previous, equally ill-advised conflict) that the U.S. will eventually abandon without turning the course of history one whisker abroad, meanwhile undermining the confidence of citizens at home in their elected government. That is the ultimate price we pay for such folly.

Michael McMillen


Fighting stigma

Bangor Mayor Clare Davitt was a profile in courage when she called Bangor High School’s using a PA system to annouce a suicide “horrifying and incredibly inappropriate.” True! Now, let’s learn from this and other experiences. Should any person have to build up their courage to face down stigma surrounding bi-polar II disorder, suicidal thoughts, etc.?

Up to 85 percent of the risk factor of this illness is associated with genetics. Yet, it’s labeled a “mental illness.” As long as we use archaic thinking and words like “physical illness” and “mental illness” and “behavioral health” — and continue to divide the human body into two separate and distinct parts — stigma will cause pain and even death because “physical” is seen as more serious than “mental.”

Science has made greater advances about heart and skin organs in part because they’re simpler than the brain organ, whose illnesses have been mischaracterized for centuries. Fact: the human body from head to toe is integrated and interactive. All human illnesses have biological, psychological and social dimensions. This is how God has made us and how science is finally learning and hoping to teach us. Are we open to learning?

May Bangor and all of its segments come together so we can learn from one another to improve our policies and practices. Let’s make a real contribution to Maine and our society by lessening the negative impact of stigma. No one should be placed in a state of pain to be a “profile in courage.”

Joe Pickering Jr.