Veterans shouldn’t face homelessness

To the editor,

Not one veteran should face homelessness. That 500,000 suffering souls linger on the streets is hard to stomach. We lack neither the resources – financial or material – nor the expertise to house, clothe and feed each one, so what gives?

In place of an honest, humble accounting of where we’ve gone wrong, we choose to double down and blame immigrants who by the numbers contribute more than they take. Historically this tactic hasn’t solved a single problem we’ve created for ourselves yet we continue to indulge it at the expense of veterans living on the streets.

War and violence leave deep wounds on the human psyche. Can we find the courage to arrest our judgments of homeless and other vulnerable peoples and delve deeper into the psychological wounds at the foundation of homelessness – a path proven to save communities money and reduce human suffering? Or will we continue indulging our need to judge the circumstances of humans we do not know?

The primal brain pushes us toward tribalism – a survival mechanism that as a species we no longer require. So long as we believe homelessness results from fatal character flaws, the problem of homeless veterans will persist.

Kirstan Watson
Arundel

Leave room at the table for gratitude

To the editor,

Gratitude is at the heart of most religious practices and traditions. Thanksgiving, while not a religious holiday, is an occasion for gratitude, welcome and kindness to have an honored place at the table.

Still, in this time of strident voices, divided politics, and heated tempers, some of our Thanksgiving tables become settings to stake out positions and harbor resentments rather than to seek understanding and practice hospitality.

Here are some suggestions to create a convivial gathering:

Breathe. Not every comment needs a response. You can just let things sit.
Assume the best intent from others. They may express themselves un-gracefully, but perhaps they wish to share an idea, not start a debate.
Be curious when others express things that might cause you to react. Take a moment to consider what experiences may have led to the formation of that idea.
It’s OK to disagree, but you do not need to be disagreeable or even sustain a conversation around the conflict. A gentle change of topic or a sudden need to get a refill of the cranberry jelly from the kitchen may be in order.
Moderate your alcohol consumption or stick to seltzer.
Look at each person with thankfulness. For those who are religious, seeking the divine in the other may soften our hearts.
Plan to share with others who do not have the resources you do. A charitable donation, food for holiday baskets though Community Outreach Services, volunteering at Bon Appetite in Biddeford are some options. Planning generosity can help you be more gracious to those near you as well. One of our local houses of worship can certainly help you find a way to share in gratitude.
On behalf of South Congregational Church, I wish you the blessings of peace, laughter, and joy for your Thanksgiving gathering.

Susan Page Townsley, pastor

South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Kennebunkport

Time to choose future is right now

To the editor,

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts” is a well-known quotation by the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. However, these days, we have been introduced to the dangerous concept of “alternative facts;” a terrifying concept worthy of existing in the world portrayed by George Orwell in his book, “1984.”

What do we mean when we say that something is a fact? We mean that what is said is something that has been proven true. In legal terms, it is the truth about something as opposed to being a personal opinion or interpretation.

Fiction, on the other hand, is a fabricated account or story about something. Simply put, it is the difference between truth and lies.

Roadside signs that have recently popped up around town ask us to choose between facts or fiction. The latter means you passively accept a story/narrative/campaign that ignores the difference between truth and lies. The former demands that there be a basis upon which statements/testimony/chronicles be founded. It is overdue that we put an end to unproven blather about “stolen elections” and the “peaceful” Jan. 6 insurrection in which lives were taken.

While there is always time for listening to one another, right now is a time for facts. There is no middle ground. We must all choose between truth or lies, and we must all choose which future we want for ourselves and our children.

Marie Louise St.Onge

Kennebunk

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