LePage, Martin Luther King Day reflection

This morning, MPBN reported that Maine’s governor LePage asked citizens to reflect on the shootings in Arizona on MLK Day. He stated that no politician pulled the trigger, and that political rhetoric was not the cause of the shooting. He asked that Mainers reflect on how this level of anger and violence happened, and suggested that we should come together. It is fascinating to me that he can see no connection between his telling the NAACP to “kiss my butt” and the kind of violence that happened in Arizona. While those remarks may not “cause” much more than an uproar of words, the implication of those words is that the people who are represented by the NAACP are not important, or worse, that they are not even the governor’s constituents. I would urge governor LePage to reflect on his own actions and how they not only represent our state, but how they impact the people who live here. I would urge him to recognize that he does represent all of us, whether we voted for him or not. I would urge him to use his rhetoric responsibly, that he begin to govern with civility not derision. Step up to your job, Mr. Governor. You are now the representative of all of Maine–this includes immigrant farm workers, people of color, and those of us who believe women should have a right to control their own bodies.

While I am upset to the core by the depths of ignorance LePage has displayed during a mere two weeks in office, and I do fear for the fate of the state that I have adopted as my home, I also recognize that adding more anger to the mix is unhelpful. I am choosing to reflect today on how Dr. King would have approached these volatile times. How does a path of nonviolence help us end hateful speech and violent actions? How can we speak out against ignorance and fear without using the rhetoric of ignorance and fear? How can we be active citizens who impact our government without taking their bait of divisive speech?

If we begin to simply listen to each other’s real hopes and fears, perhaps we can meet each other on neutral territory and begin to see that we are all just trying to find our ways in the world. In all of us is a tender spot that can break open to the fragility and preciousness of our lives as humans. If we try to live closer to that tenderness instead of protecting ourselves behind the trappings of power and separateness, perhaps we might have a chance to hear each other fully, to see each other as people, despite our many and vast differences. I take this up as a practice today, as I try to do every day. It seems more urgent all the time.

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