by Tae Chong, District 3 City Councilor, Portland

As Mainers, people of color, immigrants, refugees, asylees, and asylum seekers, we are not strangers to crisis. Whether it is weathering a blizzard or coming together to integrate refugees and asylum seekers, our compassion and our hard work have brought us together to help make a better community. We have always lent a helping hand.

This crisis before us is different. It is more about reaching within to help others.

It is a time of reflection, honesty, and self-care that leads to caring for others. This means practicing social distancing and thoroughly washing our hands often, giving our medical community and first responders the time and space they need to help heal and defeat this new world virus.

The effort is incumbent on all of us to control our urges to hoard and to gather in large groups, to not think only of our needs but of how our behavior and character can save other lives. It is also an opportunity to give to nonprofits that feed, cloth, and house the indigent as well to medical and first responder organizations that need medical supplies to save lives.

It is also an opportunity to support local businesses through restaurant take-out, local farms, breweries, and more, and it is an opportunity to support the arts because, when we are weary, we turn to song, dance, laughter, and a good story or film.

It is also a time to do a reflective inventory of what is necessary in our lives and a time to reconnect with our immediate loved ones, both near and far, either through phone or Internet. It is a time to reflect on what we really need in our lives. Truly, what is important to you, in most cases, is in your home, your spouse, your partner, your children.

I believe this is an opportunity for each of us to be better people so that when we do come together in public again, we will be better neighbors, community, state, and Union.

We are good people and often Maine has led the nation in doing good. Maine became a state 200 years ago as a free state to offset the slave states. We also helped the call to start the Civil War and one of our Maine heroes helped end the Civil War. We are a state that stands up for good, and I know the good people of Maine will come through this better than before.