Readers show support for a safe, warm environment both in schools and on our streets, writing in regards to our recent cover story on bullying and the city’s new street light bulbs.

How to Stop Bullying

Thank you for your article on bullying in the schools (Cover, “Downed by the Schoolyard, Nov. 7). Bullying among children may in fact be one of the most important social issues, since it is how all of us are conditioned into accepting hierarchies of dominance and the sanctioning of emotional physical violence against those persons considered inferior or “other.” Racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, prejudice against the disabled, the eccentric, the unconventional, all start with childhood bullying. It could be argued that war and economic exploitation are adult forms of mass bully and hate crimes, domestic violence and rape are the logical extension of the bullying attitude also.

The best way to stop bullying is to do two things: respect differences between people, while at the same time acknowledging everyone’s common humanity. Certainly there needs to be programs in the schools to address the issue, but I also think it is important for the students being bullied to be “inner-directed” and learn to develop a sense of self-respect which is not dependent on the opinions of their more insensitive peers. It is okay to be considered “odd.” I would encourage Quentin Barnes in his passion for spiders and other arthropods, and the same goes for any other kid who has unusual interests. 

Personally, I was bullied and reviled plenty of times as a child, and even periodically as an adult, yet here I am 50 years old and I am learning to accept myself unconditionally. I hope every bullied child can grow up to say the same thing about themselves.

Erich J. Holden, Santa Cruz

The Light! It Burns!

I am writing to say that I dislike the new street light bulbs replacing the old ones. The new ones are harsh and hurt one’s eyes and create cold light, and it turns our pretty little American town that used to have warm street lights into looking like a cover of a book for a murder mystery with deep shadows. It is alienating.

If graffiti can have a negative effect on a town, I am sure that having the town looking like a murder mystery set will not be good for the crime rate, nor for morale, nor for warm memories, nor for tourists. An ugly environment creates an ugly mood. I now drive with one arm up to protect my eyes.

As they pay workers to replace the lights, they are making the city ugly and unattractive and threatening, one street lamp and one street at a time. We are spending money to support artists living in a special living situation in Santa Cruz because artists are important to the city, and then choose to make the city ugly. There’s a reason California is called the golden state, and the Golden Gate Bridge is called golden, and angels are depicted as having halos, and we have “warm memories” of childhood, and good relationships are described as “warm,” and why an attractive person is called “hot.” It is built into us to like warmth. We are hard-wired.

Please write the City Council. Maybe if they hear from enough of us, they will stop and put back the old ones and sell the new ones to some other city, like Berkeley.

The street lamps are a City Council thing, not a PG&E thing. Usually if we wait, they come out with a better product that solves the problem, but if one has spent the wad on the poorer product, one can’t take advantage of a later product.

T. May, Santa Cruz