June 5, 2018 > Editorial: Microcosm
The Bay Area, once perceived as a bastion of progressive and inclusive behavior and thought, has succumbed to at least a measure of abusive and divisive rhetoric and behavior. Political campaigns can bring out the best or worst of humanity; either focused on civil debate of issues and policies or descent into irrational, prejudicial and bitter feuds. Even savvy and informed voters can be swayed by emotional tactics that appeal to base instincts.
Partisan debate has given way to what is termed ÒtribalÓ influences that transcend party, moral or ethical affiliations. In a mad scramble for power, a set of facts is no longer held to a high standard, rather a collection of thoughts supported by muddled interpretations or an ÒalternativeÓ reality. Although many have already voted by mail, stalwart poll voters are traveling to a variety of locations in California to cast their ballot today. The outcome of this primary season could be an indicator of which direction we, as a nation, take in November; but months of heightened rhetoric are ahead. While local politics have been muted so far, will challenges for new district seats on the Fremont City Council as well as contests in other cities mirror the rancor and personal attacks we see elsewhere? Are we simply a microcosm of the national and international political scene?
Political, emotional and personal conflicts not only rise during election campaigns but find their way into a host of other areas as well. Currently a bruising confrontation over sex education in the Fremont Unified School District has become vicious. Often disguised as Òhealth educationÓ, the issue cuts to the heart of our survival as a species. Without it, so far at least, there would be no future generations so the question is not of its necessity, but the issue is who and how to inform and educate our children about this basic human function and its consequences. Given the plethora of attitudes toward sexual identity and attitudes, it is no wonder that any discussion can spark heated and visceral debate. The challenge of addressing the multiple needs and maturation of children and young adults explodes when subject to the highly personal and primitive subject of sex.
While not advocating for a specific policy or age group, our environment has become saturated with explicit and implied sexual references and innuendo that is impossible to ignore or shield from even young children. Explaining the explosion of information - fact and fiction - makes it difficult for parents and their children. Schools are caught in the middle. The outburst of emotion and protectionism is understandable and can be justified but our society, from top to bottom, has conflicting moral codes that create confusion if not addressed intelligently. This too is a microcosm of movements, personalities and events.
Those charged with making decisions, whether councils, boards, commissions at local, regional or state levels are not immune to the tides of change and conflicting impulses for or against core values and issues. The least we can do, as residents and citizens of our communities, is to voice opinions and arguments based on a solid foundation of rational thought to persuade those given the unenviable task of making imperfect decisions. As rhetoric escalates and passions are inflamed, emotion can override civility. Are we a microcosm of what is happening nationally or can we resist base impulses and respectfully disagree, yet peacefully coexist? That is the true measure of national pride and respect for the tenets of our society.