Dear Chamber members, friends and loyal readers,
I have just one idea I want to share with you this October of 2021:
Raising my three children, we had a few rules in the house. Some friends would tease me, calling me a free spirit as they did not think I had enough. My reasoning made sense to me; I wanted my kids to understand that when I set a rule, it was mighty important they follow it or all hell might break loose.
Now I have your attention. Sure, I did have the usual rules; pick up after yourself; no cell phones at the table, walk the dog once a week, be kind, respect your elders even if you do not always agree with them, practice safe sex – you know the basics. I was never hung up on washing hands, or ice cream all day, their blue hair, or their music or their clothes unless it was a holiday. The one rule, looking back, had the biggest impact on their lives, was the fact that they were not allowed to use the word ‘hate’. Ever! They knew it. Yes, they did get creative and used the words ‘dislike' and ‘loathe’ among others to describe their feelings and they probably swear a little more than most kids do, but I still appreciate to this day that no one in my family utters that one awful word.
I think that word itself conjures up such anger and rage that after someone says it, there is a heavy weight on your heart for a few hours and sometimes even a few days. I have observed people who say that word, or in some cases yell that word with such vehemence that my heart breaks for them knowing they are struggling so intensely with jealousy, bitterness or frustration. Some people use the word when feeling threatened or disenfranchised, or when experiencing a broken your heart. But, oh it is such a cruel word and so mean-spirited.
I am sure many of you were either in attendance, on zoom or heard about the Town Council Meeting on Tuesday night. Witnessing the actions and the words spoken by this fringe minority group in Town who is so full of hatred is so sad. Somehow, this small group has wreaked a little havoc on our Town’s emotions and on our community for the past 18 months. Our community, unintentionally, has allowed for this to happen. On Tuesday night, the tone heightened to the point where it was frightening. Their hatred, their vitriol, their mean competitive and combative attacks on our elected public officials was just too much to bear. My eyes began to burn with tears as I watched the insults become more and more hurtful.
What prompts someone to say these things to each other? Clearly their mothers did not have rules about what could and could not be said when they were growing up, but that is hardly an excuse. There must be something more. There must be such a heavy sadness in these people’s hearts. Being a decent human should not be this difficult and if it is, you are not welcome here any longer. Life is too precious and our world is too fragile right now. We have to figure out a way to work together and to lift each other up and not tear each other down.
I worry that hatred can be all consuming. There is no way out. How do we as a community stop that from happening? Do we forgive? Do we ignore? Do we rally against? Do we just listen? But when free speech becomes verbal abuse, and is cruel and harmful, we cannot just stay silent. We have to stand up for our community, overcome the hate, and support each other.
I certainly made my share of mistakes as a parent and all three of my children may end up in therapy someday talking about how their mother should have had a few more house rules. And sure, my kids have disappointed me and made plenty of mistakes, but I really appreciate that hate has no place in their lives. I appreciate their are open-mindedness and they strive to listen and to learn from people who think differently than they do.
Los Gatos is a community like few others. I have watched the residents and the business owners, the youth, the elected officials and the Town staff, my co-workers. We believe in each other and feel each other’s pain, empathize and have compassion. Community is one of the best things we have going for us – let’s not throw it all away.