Letters to the Editor
Campaign season is over! There’s both relief and grief in the air. This is one of the hardest things about representative democracy: a vote in which the majority wins means that there is a side that doesn’t win. There are winners and losers, and it stinks to lose; especially when you put your heart and soul into a campaign. It’s a lot easier to be gracious and inclusive in victory than to be dignified and accepting in defeat.
I’m here to remind us that, as the signs come down and the city comes together again, politics continue like always. We will continue to have vigorous discussions and debates about issues that are consequential to ourselves, our futures and to the next generation of Alamedans. It’s an amazing gift, our right as humans beings, and a big responsibility. We have so much work to do to create an Alameda that children, families, elders, comfortable and struggling alike, truly belong to.
What a representative democracy does is to outsource the final decision on questions put before a group of our neighbors who we, as a community, have elected to make hose final decisions. What it doesn’t outsource is the learning, discussion, advocacy and just plain showing up. This helps ensure first, that our community is well-informed about the choices we have to make and second, that our elected officials are well-informed about perspectives from the community, their constituents.
Now’s the time, Alamedans, to decide what issues important to our community’s future will be the ones that you want to pay attention to, to learn more about, to influence the future on. Once you know your issue, think about how engaged you can consistently be — and find a way to contribute that fits your life.
There’s so much work to do. We need each other to stay connected to our city’s political and civic life; knowledge is the best protection against lies and manipulation. Being informed about your issues, seeking to learn all you can and finding others who are concerned, too, is — I firmly believe — how we make our way to solving problems. People who disagree are almost always reasonable people who have understandable reasons for their perspectives.
The heat will get turned up again in campaign season, as it does. But a well-informed community is protected against the worst tactics of campaign season being effective. And eventually ineffective strategies get dropped. So that’s my call to action: find your issue, find your people, understand those who disagree and remember we’re all in this together, so fight fair, Alameda.
We recently marked the 80th anniversary of the start of a 1938 pogrom called Kristallnacht. This event introduced the world to what Nazism would sponsor, exculpate and expand upon: unimaginable, unforgettable and unforgivable anti-Semitic criminality.
Memorialization ought to include appreciation of the forbidden behavior of Upstanders — both Jewish victims and allied Gentiles — who at risk of life defied Nazism and improved the chances of survival of kin and strangers alike. The Shoah has always told two stories — Horror and also Help — and its memorialization is not complete unless and until both are processed. Jewish victims did not go as “sheep to the slaughter.”
Many lived instead as Judaism, Judaic socialization and the Jewish community had encouraged — as conscientious human beings who understood to the core of their being that if you help save one life it is as if you had helped save the world.
The growth in the Bay Area homeless population heralds the disturbing news that homeless families remain on the rise. Nonprofits that work with families have seen their client-base grow excessively over the past few years, as families become unable to support their children in the changing lifestyle of the Bay Area. Crucially, this means more children without homes.
We usually think of adults as being the victims of homelessness. It is a forgotten truth that as a result of this epidemic, children are also being sucked into homelessness when their families lose out to poverty and gentrification. Even with resources like free lunches at schools, these families are still struggling to meet basic needs like getting their children clean enough to attend school.
All too often, our solution for homeless children is to remove them from their families and place them in foster care. This is an unsustainable solution not only because the foster system is already very full, but because removing children from their families does not address the root cause of homelessness. It is also quite simply not okay to use poverty as an excuse to break apart families.
Nonprofits like Family Support Services, Hamilton Families, Abode Services and the Alameda Point Collaborative work tirelessly to address the needs of homeless children and families in our community. Please give them your support.