I am adding to my file the letter from Brandi Boucher about a distorted justice system where “someone can serve 15 years for taking a life … but someone else will get 20-plus years for taking jewelry.”

I had just labeled a folder, “Upside Down,” and added two other items. One was a New York Times article, “Fatal Mercies,” about a 93-year-old man’s 57-year-old daughter, who was being criminally prosecuted because, when asked, she handed him a container of a lethal dose of his painkiller in it.

Two was an obituary notice of a 46-year-old man, obese most of his life, who died of a heart attack. This was a slower suicide, but no one will charge those who handed him big, fatty meals, along with rich pies, cakes and other “goodies.”

In another matter, I must resist gushing over the recent article about an apprentice at the Koviashuvik Living School, who is learning about a better life through simpler living, “Teaching how to sustain on the land,” by Kaitlin Schroeder with photos by David Leaming.

The apprentice, Ashley Hardy, says, “Once you start, you crave more, and you realize this is what life is.” It is what life was for most Americans before the 1960s. By the ’70s, however, urban and not-so-urban Americans were into throwaways and seeing luxuries such as garbage disposals, clothes dryers and dishwashers as necessities.

Sustainable living could at least delay the inevitable absence of power to run the items we take for granted and prepare us to function without them. One result? A feeling of control over our lives and a oneness with the environment.


Byrna Porter Weir, Rochester, N.Y.

Editor’s note: The writer was born and grew up in northern Maine, graduated from University of Maine in Orono, and occasionally visited Skowhegan and Waterville.

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