Maine as an Ideal
There are values that all Mainers ascribe to. We see ourselves as tough, independent, resourceful, open and community-minded, and as responsible guardians of our rich environment. Our geography and culture have shaped a proud and self-reliant people.
This spirit of uniqueness is often taken advantage of by people like Mike Heath, head of the Christian Civic League and leader of the 1998 pro-discrimination referendum. In his rhetoric he claims that, among other things, ouiji boards, Feng-shui and yoga are destroying our state.
Mr. Heath is obviously wrong and possibly certifiable, but the reason why his words resonate with some Mainers is that he recognizes our collective state identity as something unique, good, and fragile.
There are genuine threats to our way of life (and they aren't yoga). Today, a man wrote a letter to the Kennebec Journal about one of them.
Growing up along the Maine coast, I remember vividly fishing for bluefish with my father on Casco Bay. We often caught some really large bluefish and stripers. In fact, somewhere in my parents' house, among other forgotten memories, lies a photo of me at 9 years old, holding a bluefish that was taller than I.
My memories are not unique. Up and down the beautiful Maine coastline, fathers and sons woke up early on hot summer mornings and walked down to the town pier or steered their boats for open water, casting their lines into the bay. At sunset, they would triumphantly take home their catch and roast it over a grill or baste it in the oven.
They still rise early and brave the summer heat to catch the big fish. However, now stories of the fish's magnitude must suffice, since they have to throw the fish back. Mainers have not lost their desire to eat bluefish, but rather mercury levels make it impossible...
The EPA website describes mercury as "a toxic persistent, bioaccumulative pollutant that affects the nervous system and bioaccumulates in fish" and goes on to warn that it may cause cancer, damage the brain, lungs, heart, stomach, intestines and kidneys, and permanently harm unborn children. One tablespoon of mercury is enough to contaminate all the fish in a 1,400 acre lake. The Bush administration and Republicans in Washington are working to gut the clean air act, allowing five times as much mercury to be pumped into the air over the next few years. Their Orwellian "Clear Skies Act" is being debated in congress right now.
The significance of this threat to our state is made obvious by the fact that our entire congressional delegation opposes this legislation, but as long as Republicans control the House and Senate that might not make a difference.
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