Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please wear a mask
I’ve lived in Maine my whole life, and always spend my summers outside. This year, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the increased number of people out and about, experiencing the natural beauty of our state. Campgrounds booked full, trails bustling with traffic, and lakes spotted with people out enjoying a beautiful day. All of these things are great, and it makes me happy to see this kind of renewed interest in the outdoor activities that exist all around us.
This kind of increased support is exactly what land trusts and other outdoor organizations need to continue protecting and preserving our beautiful state. However, as great as it is to see this kind of activity and as much as I want to encourage everyone to go out and get some fresh air, it is important that we are mindful of the world around us. Out of the many weeks that I spent outdoors this summer, I can count on one hand the number of times that other hikers I’ve passed on the trails have been wearing masks.
While the risk of infection is decreased outdoors, under optimal conditions viral particles can remain airborne for 30 minutes and travel upwards of a mile ( Bhaganagar and Bhimireddy, 2020). It is imperative that we do our best to protect our fellow Mainers, especially the elderly who should be able to recreate without the fear of getting sick. For this reason, I urge you to keep going outside, just please wear a mask.
Preparedness is key
We are in a time in history where a pivotal event is shaping the lives of millions, a worldwide pandemic. The loss of so many jobs, the fall of the economy, shortages in essential medical equipment all the way down to a simple meal; life is hard for families across the world. Nobody knows when this pandemic will end, or what the world will look like when it is all through.
New disasters could present themselves at any moment, as bad or even worse than the pandemic. Storms have been getting fiercer and fiercer. Fires have decimated western communities, while hurricanes have washed through the south. Droughts have caused farming nightmares, reverberating through the supply chain.
With such uncertain times, there is no telling what the world will look like a decade from now. This is why we need to create more options for ourselves, rather than boxing ourselves into a corner. Choose solar panels over the grid. Choose local farms and businesses over the supply chain. If possible, drill a manual well. Break away from oil heat. Think about where all our essentials come from. What if the supply stopped forever? Preparedness is key. Do people know what they would do if a natural disaster wiped out their community?
Our lives can change in a blink of the eye, as is evident with this pandemic. People should think about their future in a different way, an alternative way, because uncertainty could become permanent normality at any moment.
Worth taking the time
The 2020 election results have been shaped by uncertainty. Nationally, it has taken days to know who will be the next president or which party will control the Senate. These issues may seem problematic. Doesn’t not knowing create uncertainty? Don’t voters deserve to know who won on election night? These questions are valid, but they fail to capture the nuances of our electoral system.
Taking time to make sure that states get the result right is worth the uncertainty caused; in fact, it is even normal. Historically, there have been many instances when election results were not immediately known. In 2004, the election was not decided on Election Night; instead, the result was only decisive the next day. In 2016, the result was not known until the early morning. In the infamous 2000 election, the result was not known for several weeks due to litigation over a recount. This kind of uncertainty is normal and important.
This year, uncertainty was to be expected. The large increase in mail-in and absentee ballots means that states are taking longer to process and count ballots. Regardless of what the president may suggest, counting every vote is far more important than knowing the result rapidly. Correctly deciding a race is far more important than calling it on Nov. 3. Maine and the nation deserve an accurate, not quick, count when so much is at stake.