This time last year I wrote a column suggesting that the city of Santa Monica needed a diversity commission and that I was willing to serve. I had applied to the Commission on the status of women, and we all knew that was a non-starter. The fact that as a gay man, who fights in court for fathers and children would be more than enough to ruffle the feather of the powers that be and prevent me from participating. Which is why I have been calling for a commission on the status of men and boys in the city for years. But we all know that’s a non-starter as well. No one gives two dead cockroaches about men dying of substance abuse, not taking care of themselves physically, having emotional needs or their parental rights being interfered with, let alone men as victims of domestic violence because we all know that men can’t be victims.
Then there’s the fact that so men are homeless and/or having mental health issues, that’s still not a very sexy topic for a politician to run on. Even if you gussie it up and talk about how those problems start when the men are boys – not that important.
BUT! Diversity. Gays, Lesbians, Transfolks, BIPOCs, now we’re talking something that the politicians can run on. So we should have a diversity commission. Well, my suggestion kinda/sorta was taken to heart. The Council decided to combine and consolidate commissions and created the Human Services Commission with an all-new panel.
Did any of the Council reach to me after I threw my hat in the ring for the Diversity Commission suggestion? They’re far too busy for that. I will say that a few of them did reply to my emails, but then it fell into the great void of council business.
I didn’t see the request for applications for the new Human Services Commission, so when that happened I wasn’t in the party. But there are two openings. One appointed member has apparently withdrawn so now my new application has a better shot. There’s two spots and four applicants.
I love our city, I’m not fond of the way that it’s developing, but rather than just complain, which is an easy thing to do, I’m choosing to step up and ask to participate. Our democratic form of government depends on people stepping up and taking part. Whether it is a simple vote, participation on a commission or council, or higher executive office. We all play a part and given the current state of the State, we need more help.
We have existential problems from homelessness (which is only going to get exponentially worse in the coming years due to automation and job loss) to the lack of state planning for proper water resources. It’s easy for us to throw our hands up and say that “it’s above my pay grade!” But if we don’t start having more ideas brought to the public square, we’re going to be stuck with the same old problems.
As a society we can all contribute more for the common good, and that doesn’t just mean paying higher taxes. It means being a part of the process. There’s a children’s story called Stone Soup. It’s a good story of how when a community comes together to share ideas and assets they can all prosper.
In times like this, where politicians want to divide us by focusing in on our differences, where hatred is spewed in the name of patriotism, where religious leaders focus on their wallets and not their spirituality, we have to find and support the voices who wish to rise above it all.
We need to find more common ground. Have more empathy for our neighbors and recognize that many of the problems we are facing are systemic and brought about by forces of greed and the lust for power.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at email@example.com or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra