Diverse ideas, cultures and behaviors can cause friction and stress. However, I believe in respecting people, even if their thoughts differ from mine. This means being kind. It means not insulting people.
What does it mean to respect people in Portola Valley? It means treating people of all backgrounds and income levels well. It means driving carefully, to respect other road users. It means welcoming visitors and helping them understand trail use. Admonish a mountain biker or dog walker on a trail restricted to hikers only, but treat them kindly with respect.
A destructive, mean action can be hurtful, cruel and devastating, but one can still respect the person, while condemning the deed. We need to foster a culture of forgiveness and kindness, at the same time insisting on justice and fairness.
Whether someone comes from a different lifestyle, has different views or has different origins, they deserve respect. It's sometimes hard to respect everyone. It's useful to have training, as we had extensively when I worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories, to recognize biases and prejudices against certain segments of the population. Confessing prejudices and telling of injustices we had observed, help clear the way for actions to hire, in some cases, a less-obvious candidate.
We've recently seen the impact of people not respecting the lives of people of color in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. In Portola Valley, we have residents with the capacity to hire and promote the less-obvious candidate, showing them respect for their skills and abilities.
In high school, we discussed for an entire afternoon the question "What is the educated man?" - where man, means mankind (I attended a girls school). After great debate and discussion, we came up with the following "The Educated Man, is able to engage in a meaningful conversation about something with whomever they meet." This might be an enemy who says nasty things about you, a child who cannot read, an elder who cannot hear well or someone you've never met before. This is just one of the many aspects of respecting someone. You may disagree vehemently with their ideas, despise their morals and be repelled by their looks, yet each person deserves some respect.
For a town council member, this means encouraging participation in town dialogs by residents, listening to comments, being well-prepared for council meetings and engaging with town committees. Sometimes, there's a fear to let people speak up lest meetings go on too long, veer off topic or give them false expectations that their requests will be honored. By taking time to collect citizen input, and then decisively providing a response, challenges get addressed fairly and respectfully.
Angela Hey is a candidate for Portola Valley Town Council. She is an experienced technology marketing consultant who serves nonprofits, as a volunteer.