A stranger’s kindness

Recently, a young man who noticed my Vietnam/Korea service hat — that I always wear — turned to me while standing in line at Wal-Mart and said, “Thank you for your service,” and he shook my hand.

The next thing I know, after the associate bagged my purchases, I asked for the amount of the bill so I could pay. She told me, “It’s all taken care of, sir.” When I asked her how, she said, “The gentleman who just left paid all of it for you.”

I was floored and amazed by this total stranger’s kindness. I looked for him to thank him, but he was gone. I would like to thank that young man.

Larry Payeur

Bangor

Drugs a societal problem

There are no words that I can utilize to inform people just how angry and frustrated I am about our attitude toward drugs. People need to open their eyes and take a stand.

I doubt there is a day that the news does not state who in the political realm is going to do this or that to rid our state of addiction. But the voters of Maine have legalized marijuana. As a very concerned Bangor resident, mom, grandma and a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, I marvel at and question our voters’ choices.

It appears to me that since we cannot provide the help our society needs to rid itself of drug addiction, that we now legalize drugs, enabling the younger generation to become drug addicted as well. Instead of looking outside of ourselves for addiction solutions, let us try a little old-fashioned accountability and take control of ourselves, so we can rightfully become accountable for our societal woes.

Sherry Anderson

Bangor

Fixing the criminal justice system

Eric Holder, former U.S. attorney general, once said, “I think there are too many people in jail for too long and for not necessarily good reasons.”

As the newly appointed House chair of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, I’m headed into the new session focused on ensuring that fewer Mainers enter the criminal justice system, and I also want to ensure that those who do enter the system get the tools they need to successfully exit it for good.

I’ll work with committee members on both sides of the aisle to address the challenges that our state faces. That means providing responsible funding — and common-sense policy — for our criminal justice system. We need to address the fact that our county jails continue to struggle to find sustainable funding and that Maine taxpayers continue to shoulder that cost. I want to work with my colleagues to expand programs that help reduce recidivism by improving access to treatment for substance use disorder and job training opportunities to build the skills necessary to re-enter communities.

As chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, I will work to be a powerful force against any effort to bring back the failed war on drugs. We’ve come a long way in recognizing that we can’t arrest our way out of the drug crisis. There is still work to do. Maine people are counting on us to protect them and their families. I look forward to the challenge and privilege of the work ahead.

Rep. Charlotte Warren

D-Hallowell

Hope is necessary

Elizabeth Printy in her Dec. 22 BDN letter to the editor missed the rest of Michelle Obama’s comment about what it feels like to not have hope in her interview with Oprah Winfrey. In the same sentence, Obama went on to say that hope is necessary.

Obama closed the interview stating that her wish for the country is hope and that we find a place in our hearts to love one another. Obama does have hope, and she is encouraging all of us to have hope.

Denise D. Rule

Lubec