“Most Mainers unaffected by shutdown, unless you’re a federal employee,” states the headline of the Kevin Miller article in the Oct. 1 newspaper. Sounds hopeful, doesn’t it? If we read the article, however, we find that there is a lot more harm done than just to a few federal employees.

The article states that more than 600,000 visitors to Acadia National Park (perhaps half those are Mainers) will be adversely affected. Loans to small businesses, women, veterans and Native Americans will not go forward. Those effects took place immediately.

If the shutdown continues, Mainers will lose heating assistance (in the winter, no less), use of many court functions, and WIC benefits. WIC is the Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition program. As usual, it’s the poor who suffer the most.

I also have learned from the National Wildlife Federation that EPA monitoring will be suspended. A great opportunity for polluters to harm our fragile Maine environment.

Besides these obviously measurable negative effects, there is an element that is too often forgotten: When one person suffers misfortune, all of our lives as human beings are diminished.

Yes, a few hundred federal workers in Maine will lose their jobs, at a time when jobs are extremely scarce. True, we may still have our own jobs, for now. How can we though, as responsible human beings, not feel the pain of our fellow humans? None of us is free until all of us are free. None of us is free of pain until all of us are free of pain.

Peter P. Sirois


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