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Tuesday, April 3, 2012: Spring, same-sex marriage compromise and charter schools

For the birds

Have you been enjoying the celebratory bird song of spring this year as much as I have? If so, I hope you will consider the birds this spring as you make your plans for lawn and garden care. When we declare war on lawn pests and weeds by using chemical fertilizers and pesticides we in effect declare war on ourselves. We put not only the birds into jeopardy, as we poison their food supply, we also put our own health in jeopardy as we contaminate our soils, air and water.

There are alternatives to our chemically supported green lawns. The resources available to assist us in transitioning to a full-spectrum-creature beneficial landscaping system are ample. MOFGA is a great starting point for accessing resources, at www.mofga.org.

If you happen to be involved with a business that promotes chemical landscaping, I hope that you will see this letter as an encouraging invitation to explore ways to expand your business in innovative, earth-supporting ways. My concern is for your health as well. The sprays are potentially harmful to everyone.

I envision a world where we all finally recognize the interconnectedness of our human and nonhuman communities and world where we gather together for collaborative problem-solving, generating creative solutions that benefit us all — solutions that address and support our personal and global health, our creative expression and financial solvency for everybody.

May we all cultivate seeds of peace in our gardens and hearts this spring. Evolve and resolve with love.

Happy spring.

Lelania Avila

Northeast Harbor

Compromise is possible

The battle lines are formed again on this upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage. Could we hope these battle lines would disappear if we give a heartfelt reflection on the two issues that seem to be central?

A reflection on compassion and consideration: Same-sex advocates are looking to their opponents for compassion and I believe the overall readiness to sanction civil unions and grant to these unions all the same privileges and benefits of traditional marriage is proof that compassion is abundant.

Traditional marriage advocates do not want to stand in the way of anyone’s happiness. They also are not standing in judgment of those of differing views but only request the consideration of their beliefs. The marriage title is the name of their belief. The belief that marriage is a union both civilly and sacramentally of one man and one woman. They want to stress the sacredness and inalterability of the marriage title.

Compassion and understanding is sought by the same-sex advocates and consideration of their beliefs and understanding is sought by the proponents of traditional marriage. Is there a compromise that would satisfy both sides? Is there a title that would appeal to the same-sex advocates other than marriage with all the same rights and privileges?

May everyone, regardless of their orientation, continue to receive compassion and may the ordained, deeply revered one-man-and-one-woman definition of marriage receive its due consideration.

Peter Pinette


Charter school caution

The Maine Charter School Commission is visiting communities throughout the state to gather public sentiment regarding the creation of 10 new charter schools. According to the commission, they are interested in finding out where there are “gaps” in public education.

The charter school movement is based on the premise that our current school system is not meeting the needs of all our students. Many Maine students drop out of school. Many barely make it to graduation. Who are the students who are not successful in the public school system? Who are the students likely to drop out? Who are the students who can’t function within the current school structure?

As state government embarks on this new venture to establish 10 charter schools, I hope the commission will focus on who should be served rather than what these schools will offer. The establishment of charter schools in Maine offers us the chance to develop new school models that will meet the needs of students who have traditionally not been successful. If we create 10 new charter schools with no commitment to those students who are least likely to succeed in our current school structure, we are wasting an opportunity to make real progress in education reform.

I encourage the commission to support the creation of charter schools designed specifically to service students who have not previously experienced success.

Craig King


Whose God, whose service?

Rev. Roger Tracy’s OpEd (BDN, March 28) states a clear vision of America, formerly and in the future, as a Christian nation. Yes, “the Declaration of Independence references God four times,” but how many times does it reference Christianity?

My parents were atheistic secular humanists. I’m an agnostic, I think. I don’t know what my daughter believes, but she doesn’t call herself a Christian. Muslims and Jews believe in one God. Buddhists, Hindus and pagans believe in other gods. What place is there for any of us in Rev. Tracy’s America? Should our children be forced to pledge allegiance to his God and read his Bible?

He disparages the opinion of the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson — “separation of church and state” — while quoting the second president, John Adams — “the general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence, were the general principles of Christianity.” Which view should prevail?

The words “under God” were added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 during the height of anti-communist hysteria, as a rebuke to atheistic Russia. The Cold War is over, is it time to restore the Pledge to its original (godless) form?

The Rev. Tracy thinks “it is obvious that someone’s values will govern America.” It’s obvious to me that he wants his values to govern America. My values are different. Whose should govern? Is this a free country or what?

Henry Elliott

Blue Hill

Misquoting the Constitution

Roger Tracy’s OpEd, “When God was in school and state,” is interesting, but it has one glaring error. He misquoted the U.S. Constitution.

His quotation was, “Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In fact the First Amendment of our Constitution says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The difference is important as much of what his article is based on his misquote.

Stephen Porter


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