We mostly think of the United States as a whole, with little regard given to state borders. The designs on the highway signs may change, but people cross state lines every day without any difference in function.

Recently, two things have taken me aback because they caused me to realize that I’m in a different state. The first is mask-wearing. Iowa has mandates that you can’t have a mask mandate, but in New Mexico, everyone had masks on everywhere. In Wisconsin, masks were pervasive and required indoors. Coming from a state where they are optional, it was striking to see everyone masked up.

The second reminder was at O’Hare airport where there is a marijuana amnesty box for anyone who bought cannabis legally in Illinois but is unable to legally take it to the state to which they are flying. Another reminder that it’s state legislation in action.

The national elections get all the hype, but day-to-day life is impacted more by what happens outside of Washington. Pay attention to what’s happening at your local, county, and state levels, and use your voice to influence these jurisdictions. We’re divided enough as a country; don’t let state borders become one more division.

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