Inclusion and Freedom of Speech

A lot has happened in our country over the last two weeks.  Many in America are confused, apprehensive, and/or upset.  In this uncertain time, I think it is important – both nationally and locally – to double down on two important American values:  Inclusion and Freedom of Speech.

Much of our country’s strength is due to our long-time acceptance of other cultures and diversity. This inclusion has enriched the nation in many ways and made us the world’s innovator.  We must continue to embrace this value.

Locally, I applaud the Los Altos City Council for developing a Diverse Community resolution that they will vote on this Tuesday (which symbolically is also Valentine’s Day).  You can express your support for this resolution to the Council members.

Also positive is Mountain View’s Human Rights resolution passed last May expressing similar values.  As an aside, today Mountain View is hosting a forum discussing its values for sustaining a caring, diverse, and engaged community.

Freedom of speech is fundamental to America.  A component of this is freedom of the press.  It is more important than ever for all of us to look beyond the network news channels and headlines to understand the facts and support the sources working to provide them. Transparency is critical to democracy and effective government.

Here we are fortunate to have the Los Altos Town Crier and the Mountain View Voice to cover our respective communities and to provide outlets for residents to express their views.  In addition, our City governments and police are continuously working to improve their communication channels with the community.

But, it’s not only what is communicated but how it is communicated. We’ve all seen a lot of bravado and “tough talk” at the national level.  This is one way to effect transactional change.  In contrast, approaching others with caring and kindness leads to trust, deeper relationships, and more lasting and productive change.

A final thought:  In the Wall Street Journal review of Thomas Freidman’s book “Thank You for Being Late”, it is noted that Mr. Friedman writes “the closest political analogue for the calm eye of a hurricane that I can think of is a healthy community.”

Healthy communities create trust, and “When people trust each other, they can be much more adaptable and open to all forms of pluralism.”  Rather than build walls, they face their problems and solve them. In Friedman’s telling, this is the way to make America great.

Together, let’s make our communities even greater.

Most sincerely,

Joe EyreJoe Eyre,

Executive Director, Los Altos Community Foundation