When I choose silence
I have wonderful neighbors here in Guilford. We don’t always agree about politics. That’s OK. But for me President Donald Trump’s words are personal. I am American, born and raised. My father was not so lucky — refugees from Hungary, his family came here with nothing but hope. Like many “white” Americans — Irish, French Canadian, Italian, the list goes on — we were the “ wrong type” of immigrant at the time. Although I consider talking about this with my neighbors, usually I choose not to.
This week, as a resident of Guilford, I am confronted with my silence. My sister-in-law is kind, thoughtful, articulate and an incredible mother to my nieces and nephew. She reminded me that while I can choose silence, she cannot remove her black skin. My family arrived with nothing but hope and found the American dream in a single generation. Her family arrived on slave ships that did not carry hope.
In America, a man can jump a kid who looks like my nephew, murder him and claim it was self defense. It happened to Trayvon, to Ahmaud, to too many. What about my nephew’s right to self defense? What about his right to be afraid? In America, my white nephews are innocent until proven guilty but my black nephew can face a death sentence before his miranda rights are read.
I’m proud of Puritan. I love Guilford. I love my neighbors. Most of all I love my nieces and nephews. When I choose silence, what am I choosing for them?
Open the playgrounds
Bangor, the time has come to remove the caution tape from our city’s playgrounds. I know that this pandemic is not over and that the threat remains. I understand that vigilance is required to keep the virus at bay and I respect and adhere to social distancing, masking guidelines and common sense.
And yet, as of this month, we are moving toward reopening many of the businesses and services that make life enjoyable for adults: bars, restaurants, gyms, etc., with those guidelines in place. Why can’t we do the same for our kids?
We took extreme and necessary measures to halt the spread of COVID-19 early on and we have been successful thus far. According to the Maine CDC, there are 42 confirmed/probable cases in the 04401 ZIP code, an infection rate of 0.09 percent. We have done well.
We are still struggling to understand this novel coronavirus, but there are a few things that we do know: outdoor transmission rates are very low and though it’s theoretically possible to catch COVID-19 through surface contact, the CDC itself states “this isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
We have to keep public pools closed and reduce capacity for summer camps; we may not be able to safely go to museums or library story times. But we can reopen outdoor spaces with minimal risk. It is time. Reopen the playgrounds.
I trust Sweet
Throughout her 37-year career as a progressive advocate and small-business owner, Betsy Sweet has advanced progressive reform through the Maine State House and beyond.
Sweet helped write and successfully pass the nation’s first Family Medical Leave Act. She took on a Democratic governor in order to secure a raise in Maine’s minimum wage. She helped write and pass the first statewide publicly financed elections bill in the country. Sweet has prioritized human rights her entire career, including ensuring that Maine’s domestic violence and sexual assault prevention services have the resources to function.
I know that Sweet will push for legislation in Washington that delivers real help to Mainers – not just corporate special interests and the desires of party leadership. That’s what she’s shown us her whole career. I trust her, and she has my vote this July.
There are thousands of people out of work in Maine and nearly 40 million people out of work in America. The economy at some point will reopen. But government order or not, it won’t just start up again while a deadly bug floats around. Even with more testing available in Maine, many people still are not ready to risk going out and therefore will not be spending money.
A pandemic that cripples the economy is the kind of thing that could start a depression, and it is unclear if the federal government has a plan for getting the country through one.
The last time a depression happened, Franklin D. Roosevelt put millions of people back to work with the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration. He gave the country a little confidence and it went a long way.
We should remember what FDR did whenever we drive over potholes or an interstate highway.
Or remember what he did if you live in a rural area with kids at home who have trouble accessing online classrooms because the broadband internet is bad.
Our current administration needs to put improving American infrastructure using American workers as a priority in the plan to get the U.S. through this crisis.
Teach your children well
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young sang ” Teach Your Children” 50 years ago. We haven’t.
So here we have coronavirus and civil unrest. Please remind readers we need to produce attitudes of acceptance and caring in all our actions and speech.
The small act of wearing a mask
I am pleased to see so many people wearing face masks in my local stores and community. COVID-19 can be a devastating disease. Some lucky people show few or no signs of infection, but others become very sick. Some develop terrible complications, and some die.
Face masks help reduce coronavirus transmission from infected people, and even people without symptoms can be infectious. Unfortunately, masks are less effective at protecting the wearer. Social distancing is critical, but sometimes hard to maintain. That’s why we are all safer when everyone wears masks.
The more masks I see, the more freedom I have to be out and about in the world. The small act of wearing a mask brings big benefits to everyone.