In Case Anybody Cares, This Is Why I Can’t Sleep

The election results have cut to the quick. After a full week of protests from a stunned half-a-country, both the President and President Elect have called for calm. Peace rallies are cropping up now – “hug-ins,” and a “hand-holding” of hundreds around a lake, and a student/teacher-organized multi-hour march through a town to promote an accord.

At the same time, political, environmental and human rights groups are begging us to rally behind the issues and work together to safeguard against dismantling reforms that have been made.

I get it. We can’t continue this way. I don’t condone the violence, the fires, the blocking freeways and highways. But my personal anger rages. And while I am not a person of color or of a religion or creed that might attract negative behavior, I continue to react. I do not like the person I see in the mirror, sometimes spitting-mad, then depressed, unsmiling, stunned, and always terribly irritated by every minor inconvenience.

And worst of all, Humor, that irreverent and goofy thing that dwells within me, so close to my surface, suddenly packed up and left Tuesday night sometime between the cup of tea I made to steady my nerves and going to bed. It left, and it took Sleep with it.

Every night for eight nights I think long and hard about what has happened, and attempt to figure out why I hurt so much. There’s no denying it; I feel like I’ve been wronged. The hurting won’t stop.

I don’t react against the millions who voted this way, including relatives and friends. In the end, somebody wins and somebody loses. I know how good it feels to have a candidate I’ve supported win; it’s great, isn’t it? I don’t want to take this celebratory feeling away from anyone. So it’s not just that my candidate lost.

Last night, somewhere between 3 and 4 a.m., it hit me. Of course, I have been dismayed by the public lack of restraint the now President Elect has demonstrated for the past 17 months, and I hope that most of us, at the very least, has shaken our heads at the charged rhetoric. My urban neighborhood and my entire city is an ethnically-diverse region. I live in Silicon Valley. The entire San Francisco Bay Area is diverse. We chose, and continue to choose to live in an area that my grandmother, who was born in 1900, would have called “a regular League of Nations.”

When I walk my dog down the main artery, every day I breathe in the wonderful aromas of spices from multiple restaurants featuring world cuisines. The local movie theater is a hub for Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada and English movies. The shops and businesses are owned by neighbors who hail, or whose families once hailed from countries around the globe.

My kids’ grammar school was another “League of Nations” with 26 languages spoken by families. Some girls in my kids’ classes wore headscarves. Sometimes parents, who had just moved to the area and who had studied English in their native countries, volunteered in classes for weeks and months, translating for their own young children who, just starting school, had not yet had the opportunity to study English. Other language-rich volunteers within the community helped many a student feel comfortable with English. In fact, the school district, our school and parents’ organization held numerous tutorials with translations provided for non-English speaking parents so they could learn how to navigate their way through the school system. One thing was certain; we were in this together.

Along with the regular curriculum, all the kids studied music and technology. They learned about holidays throughout the globe and they sampled foods from across the continents. On special occasions they shared traditional dress. They played with each other and did homework and projects together and it never occurred to these kids that there was anything different or odd or unusual about any of this.

I’ve dedicated much of my time volunteering in and for schools. We, our family, chose to live here, and we embraced the diversity. And as with the other families around us, our children, all our children, would grow up together, study together and someday work in a global economy together where every ounce of understanding among individuals and nations could only be a benefit. This is Silicon Valley. A good chunk of success here is from working together. As school volunteers, we not only helped in class, we ran the cultural assembly programs, we engaged the kids in the arts, we wrote the newsletters, helped with the field trips, mentored, wrote about the successes of the school in a state and national program, ran the fund-raisers, made the copies, decorated the classrooms and the cupcakes, served on school site committees and represented the school at district-wide parent committees, and told kids that we really did live at school. The staff welcomed us warmly. We were partners. As parent volunteers, the more engaged we became, the more we realized that our own children’s success was in every way rooted in the success of all the children at school, no matter what learning disability they had or which language they spoke. We worked hard to counter bullying, embracing research-based practices that the entire school district supported. Parent engagement programs taught us how to empower youth, how to provide kids with assets that would enable them to meet challenges head-on. We adopted sound, proven techniques that highlighted a positive school climate.

And so here is my personal epiphany, figured out in the wee hours of the morning last night. For the past 17 months, we have heard nothing but bullying and calling out groups originating from different places on the globe, belittling people – people who have handicaps, people who speak different languages, people who worship in non-Christian places, women, blacks, gays, people who dress differently, and the list goes on. I will be the first to tell you that there are great challenges in our society, but after spending what I am proud to call my life’s work, the President-Elect has not only spit upon my values and those of my colleagues and neighbors and friends and residents of a beautiful place we call home, stomping on years of thoughtful, loving and hard work to help our kids, all our kids thrive, he has made it fashionable to seek-out with aggression and malice any and all who may be seen as a threat, any who look or act differently based on some perceived difference, forgetting that so much of the greatness of our country was built on the backs of immigrants who were also persecuted.

As a result, I feel shame that this is the course our nation has chosen. Change is fine. Bring it on. But let’s be darned certain that the change we make yields real progress. Making our country less inclusive of diversity is change, but just the worst kind. Progress is not made by bullying and threatening violence and committing violent acts. Nor is it made by yelling abusive comments at others. And we certainly do not make any kind of progress when children are afraid to go to school because they are told that they will be arrested and deported as soon as they open their door. One young child packed a suitcase on election night. A student, a young woman at a local university, was assaulted because she wears a hijab; she was nearly choked. There have been many, many reports of racial slurs, violence, and assaults. How do hate crimes enact positive change?

So I too, now, call for some semblance of order. Yes, from damaging riots, but also from people who think it is within their rights to persecute another for how he or she looks, acts, thinks, prays, or speaks. I chose to work for years, doing my part as a parent and citizen, to ensure that my kids and their classmates and friends were safe, well-adjusted and ready to succeed in a world that is, communication-wise, without borders. And in 17 short months, the gold-standard has been reduced to nothing more than a barnyard brawl.

And that’s why I’m not sleeping.

Kathy Galgano

November 16, 2016

 

 

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Something We Can All Agree On – (Please, read to the end)

Dear Democratic Leader Pelosi:

I write to you here because as I do not live in your Congressional district,  my attempt to email you failed.

Congratulations on your election to remain the House Democratic leader.

Having said this, please know that I am removing myself from this email list, sadly. I am personally surprised at my fatigue in all things politics, especially now, after this month’s mid-term elections, when my Party’s numbers in Congressional representation have been reduced so significantly. And while I want and need to stay informed, I feel that there is a constant free-for-all in the emails that are sent to me. I am done with the emails that sensationalize everything, that always request a contribution, and that appear to divide the gap between the two parties even further.  

I received the news that you have been re-elected as House Democratic leader, and was asked for a contribution. I am always asked for a contribution, no matter what the news. I appreciate your hard work and tenacity, but, (and yes, there is a “but” here) must all emails include a request for money? Perhaps an announcement, and a call to rally would have been sufficient, and not tipped me over the edge. I am unsubscribing to these emails.

Here’s why I am tired — through this constant barrage of emails, the appearance is that elected representatives from both houses cannot do their jobs without airing dirty laundry, without constantly asking for money, without inane and sensational “Subject” lines that are at best humorous, and at worst, infantile and embarrassing. I am tired of reading multiple times a day that all is lost. I am also tired at the lack of respect for the offices of representing citizens; that respect has been whittled away by infighting, and also by these so-called “chummy” emails. Remember, citizens get these emails multiple times a day. Representing the people of the United States is serious business, and the behavior of elected officials as portrayed in these missives is unprofessional. This goes not only for the legislative branch, but also for the executive branch. Compound this constant campaign of ridiculous emails with the work that is not getting done in the beautiful and historic chambers in the Capitol building, and one might begin to understand why voters, well, I can only speak for myself here, why I am tired of the way business is being done today,

While something deep inside me knows that money is needed and campaign reform laws are paramount, I have been worn down to the point that I can no longer spend energy every day sorting through these missives, reading accounts of how the political parties continue to fight and how nothing is getting done, and then cringing as I am asked for and yet another contribution. 

Again, I sincerely congratulate you, Congresswoman Pelosi, and I wish you all the very best. I appreciate your hard work and tenacity and service. I also hope that a sense of decorum can be re-established, that people can see that the Congress is willing no longer to use the citizenry to jump in and take sides as if this were a big sporting match where we shout each other down. I fear that we have become a laughing stock. I look forward to a day when, while entrenched in vehement disagreement, there will be some respect for each other and for the electorate.

As you prepare for a new Congress, my thoughts are with you as you attempt to negotiate policy in a profound climate of non-partisanship, and urge you to take a new tack. I also urge your party members to do the same. Who knows? Perhaps this is something to which both sides can agree.

Respectfully,

Kathleen M. Galgano