Create an open world
As a community that believes the light that lies within every person should be welcomed, not snuffed out, Quakers of the Midcoast Friends Meeting have issued a call to action, mutual support and education to create a more just and compassionate society.
All identities and personal expressions can teach us about friendship, how to be warm and accepting with each other and how to share closeness with God and give loving-kindness to each other. We open our meeting house doors to all regardless of identity, expression or ethnicity. Yet, the world at large is not open — it is not enough for us to seek beloved community inside the safety of our walls.
As longstanding allies or members of Maine’s queer and trans communities, we must hold ourselves accountable to acknowledging and dismantling systems of oppression that enable hate, violence and suppression of individual lights through a culture of complacency, ignorance and fear. If you are queer, trans or latinx, know that you have a place in our community. If you are an ally to any at-risk group, know that you have an active, ongoing responsibility to educate yourself and others in openness and affirmation of diverse identities. If you work and pray for a world free from violence and discrimination, remember that your liberation is bound up in the liberation of all.
In the face of violence and sudden death, tragedy calls us to put beliefs into action — beyond prayer, the dinner table and the armchair. Be an ally. Make sure there is a beloved community in the life you lead.
LePage’s junk food ban
Gov. Paul LePage has said that in spite of the prohibition by the federal government, he intends to unilaterally prevent SNAP participants from using their benefits to purchase junk food and soda. On the face of it, it is an admirable to be concerned about people’s health, but clearly that is not the reason.
Regardless, has anyone considered the following? How will EBT cards be programmed to recognize junk food and soda? How will the thousands of merchants in the state determine what is junk food? How will compliance be monitored?
But perhaps the most important issue is that the governor, by defying the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is committing an illegal act and risking the loss of millions of federal dollars for the SNAP. By directing the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to carry out his agenda, he is telling state employees to break the law. Then, by mandating that merchants not sell junk food and soda to SNAP recipients, the governor and DHHS are telling private citizens to break the law.
So, what do parents tell their children? It’s OK to break the law if the governor breaks the law. Think about that message, regardless of the questionable merits of the case. Is that what we want to teach our children?
Mark D. Roth
Ranked-choice voting support
Forty years ago, with nothing more than paper and pencil, I was part of a team running student elections at my college. With at least six candidates for each post, we used a form of ranked-choice voting, known as the “single transferable vote,” to ensure the most popular candidates were elected to each position.
Since then, I have questioned why our electorate allows itself to be kept in the straitjacket of a single choice. If I wish to support the Green or Libertarian Party candidates, why should that also disqualify me from expressing a preference between the Democratic and Republican candidates?
Most voters don’t like being forced into a two-way choice. They want to fully express their preferences and have a level playing field that allows all candidates to be fairly evaluated. If we had ranked-choice voting, this would all be institutionalized.
In races with more than two candidates, the major benefit of ranked-choice voting is the election of the most acceptable candidate, instead of the least preferable one. But this system has also been shown to revolutionize voter engagement by encouraging candidates to reach beyond their core supporters to attract the preferences of a broader base in order to earn a majority vote.
By adopting ranked-choice voting, Maine would be taking another appropriate step towards modernizing our election system. Our society is too diverse and complex to be confined to two realistic choices each election cycle. Join me in the movement for 21st-century voting.
State must earn tribes’ trust
I read with interest the June 22 BDN editorial about renegotiating tribal sovereignty and tribal and state relations. This issue is rooted in a matter of “trust.” In 1794, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts made a treaty with the Passamaquoddy Tribe, setting aside some 30,000 acres of land in Washington County using the term “forever.” Well, “forever” lasted about 26 years for when Maine separated from Massachusetts. It is this that eventually resulted in the Maine Indian Lands Claim case ending in the 1980 Settlement Act.
Since the Settlement Act, the state has been actively chipping away at the limited sovereignty offered in the settlement.
More recently, when the tribes proposed establishing gaming in Maine to generate revenue for their communities, candidate for Maine Gov. John Baldacci met with an inter-tribal group and pledged to support their effort if elected. When elected, however, Baldacci used taxpayer dollars to counter the tribes’ gaming initiative through televised ads. He said gambling was not for Maine and that gaming would not produce economic development for the tribes. He said it would bring the criminal element to the state of Maine.
At the same time, the city of Bangor was planning for a “racino.” There are now two casinos in the state. And, with all the tribes’ subsequent legislative initiatives and efforts, they have yet to succeed in establishing a casino-style gaming enterprise.
It is my belief that if there is to be an opportunity to improve tribal and state relations, the issue of trust has to be addressed.
Roger G. Ritter