I am grateful to Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King for representing Maine with honor by choosing not to support the recently proposed health care legislation, which could oppress so many. It boggles my mind that the plan is called the Better Care Reconciliation Act when it explicitly ends care for 22 million vulnerable Americans (according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office). I do not envy our senators, criticized on all sides when they take a stand, but I deeply respect their courage to stand up regardless. I have been a social worker for over 20 years. I sit with vulnerable Mainers every day, from the working poor, to the disabled, to LGBTQ youth, to those with mental illness, young and old.

If I have learned one thing in years of listening, it is this: We all suffer, perhaps in different ways, and for different reasons, but none of us is exempt from suffering. And what we all need when we are in pain is to know that someone is with us.

Some can call on family and friends in these moments, and some are lucky enough to have family and friends with enough power to help them, but what about those who don’t have anyone to answer their call, or anyone with the power to act on their behalf? Don’t they, too, deserve someone to lean on when they are in need?

Isn’t this precisely why Lincoln called ours a “government of the people, for the people and by the people”? The powerless need the powerful. The powerful need the powerless. There is no “us or them.” There is only “us and them.”

We all benefit when we care for one another, and we are all hurt when we choose not to. I am grateful to our Maine senators for choosing to care. I, in my small way, aim to do the same.

Amy Partridge-Barber

Cape Elizabeth