Letters, Dec. 19: “Your life is not yours”

Get learnt

I have been bothered by the thought of the relations of the New Mexico police and citizens since I moved back here seven and a half years ago. I finally did something: started a Neighborhood Watch meeting and then signed up to take the SFPD Citizens' Academy (a 12-week course offered for everyday people like me to learn and understand how it all works; kind of like a civics class I never took).

What I am learning … is that stress, untreated, doesn't go away. It goes from being "situational" to "organizational," part of the organism's thought process, responsive system and habitual behavior. People and stressed animals don't "go from 0-100" without warning. … Our ability to think or even breathe our way down becomes impaired if not impossible once stress has become organizational.
In the [past] 12 weeks … I have come to have a new respect for and understanding of these officers. I can't even imagine showing up each day to the extreme stress that is visited upon them, made even worse by low pay, shortage of officers and receiving a steady stream of venom from so many of us.

This stress factor works both ways: driving, walking, living with the fear of police brutality can become organizational and our own attitudes and behavior can become warped. …

My point is that I encourage anyone who can to take the SFPD Citizens' Academy. It will give you knew insights, empathy, and perhaps even a sense of seeking a shared solution, healing the schism of the police being "the other." I also ask that other citizens and I begin to find other ways to live in the solution, perhaps beginning by talking to our mayor, by attending "Coffee with a Cop" events and putting ourselves out there to be part of the yet-unseen solution.

Gaia Genevieve Richards
Santa Fe

How-To, Dec. 19: “How to Visit a Museum like a human being”

Get learnt even more

As a museum guide for 10 years … the biggest concern I have in a museum when I am working is to make sure people enjoy themselves, and the art is okay. The museum I work at has a set of rules that they deem to be important to do just that. … These may be rules that are idiosyncratic to where I work, but the talking to people about the rules is universal.

And when I have to say something to a guest about a rule, all kinds of stuff can happen.

  • Name-calling (my favorite: “You’re a Nazi!”)
  • Taunting (i.e. they are inches within touching the art after I asked them to not touch the art, or just “brushing” the art)
  • Complaining to my boss, to Yelp, or just out loud how the staff sucks after having to talk to them about something they did
  • Storming out the door or to the other side of the museum and/or avoiding me at all costs
  • Defending their touching the art (my favorite; after this woman picked up the art: “It looked out of place.”) …

And we love to talk to people where I work, but we are not doing this for romantic reasons.

Elizabeth Mesh
Santa Fe