Texas Liberal

All People Matter

An Autobiography In 220 Words

A possible autobiography of who I am. 

1967—Born.

1970’s— First Realizations

1. Other kids are not always nice.

2. While it may seem counter-intuitive, humor does not make friends, but it does earn respect.

3. Intellect gets you noticed and has a deeper value as well.

Though it was not yet clear what that deeper value would be.    

1980’s—More Realizations

1. Women, gays, blacks, and self-defined punk rockers make reliable friends. At least they did for the person I was becoming.

People on the outside, if they are not too angry to connect, can be of great help to each other.  

2. Knowledge is not inherently power. It depends on whether what you know can be applied.

Knowledge, however, does allow you to navigate life easier. It provides the context needed to understand everyday life. 

This is how I came to a more generalized approach to thinking, instead of a detail-orientated type of thinking.   

A general approach to life must be found. You won’t most often find specific answers.

1990’s—Questions

1. How do I balance a strong personality with an ideological commitment to collective action? How I do communicate that personal independence and collective action do not conflict?

2. How can I be as inclusive and open to others as possible, while still holding strong views? 

1994—Met future wife.

2000’s — Always More To Consider

1. How do I best communicate my values? What is the widest definition of communication I can use to assert my values?

2. Just as knowing history helps you understand the present, longstanding friendships give your life context and meaning        

3. Effective communication and good relationships require much self-discipline.

March 3, 2008 Posted by | Central Questions, My Wife Is The Best Person Ever, Uncategorized, Welcome To TexasLiberal | , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Central Questions—How To Maintain Relationships Across Distances Of Time & Space

This is part of a Texas Liberal series called Central Questions.

How can people maintain personal relationships across distances of time and space in a world in which we are all very busy?

Here are some possible answers–

1.  Understand that others are as busy as you are and just about any effort to stay in touch is appreciated.

2. Map out what strategies you will pursue to keep up relationships. It could be perodic e-mailings to a list of friends or simply leaving a phone message. Anything to keep the relationship going.    

3.  Apply imagination to maintaining your relationships. Think about old contacts that can be renewed. Think of ways to contact people specific to the individual and what they are doing in life at the moment. 

4. View maintaining relationships as a kind of unpaid job.  It’s something that just takes work.

5. Remember that one good conversation or an afternoon spent together can carry a relationship for a long time.

6. Understand that 99% of the time a lack of reciprocity is not a slap in the face. People are (mostly) doing the best they can. Accept limits in others so your limits will also be accepted. Stick with someone over the long haul and odds are you’ll be glad you did.

Maintaining relationships is one of the most important things an individual can do in life.  Relationships give life context and meaning. 

October 17, 2007 Posted by | Central Questions, Relationships | | 4 Comments

Central Questions—Why Should We Support Democracy?

This is part of an ongoing Texas Liberal series called Central Questions.   

We take support of democracy as a given in the United States. Yet how often do we ask ourselves why we really believe in democracy?

Here are some possible reasons we might support and believe in democracy—

1. To use the overworked Winston Churchill thought on the matter, democracy is the worst system until we consider all the others.

2. Democracy can be supported based on a belief that citizens must have a say in how they are governed. This right could be seen as even more important than specific policies a democracy produces. People must be free.

3. Democracy could be supported as an act of nihilism or even vindictiveness once a personal determination has been made that people in charge of their fates will ruin their lives and ruin society. 

4. A reason to support democracy is that it could be seen as the best way to give the people the illusion of control, while in fact society is run by a relative few. Democracy could be seen as form of social control.

5. Democracy could be seen as the best way to give lucky, well-connected, talented or highly-motivated people a meaningful life—in number beyond the few who may actually be running society as referenced above— even if the majority of citizens never really can get ahead.

6. Democracy could be seen as inevitable at this point given the fall of the Soviet block, the decentralization of life with the internet and mobile technology and the erosion, in some respects, of borders. Since it is inevitable, you might as well get on board and make the best of it.      

September 30, 2007 Posted by | Best Posts July-Dec. 2007, Central Questions, History | 2 Comments

Central Question—Can A Majority Be Oppressed?

This is part of an occasional Texas Liberal Series called Central Questions.

The very good blog The People’s Republic of Seabrook recently ran a post with the following title—“How Can A Majority Reasonably Claim To Be Oppressed?

The post had to do with complaints by some American Christians that they are allegedly persecuted.

I’m not as interested in the specifics of that one TPRS post, which I agreed with well- enough, as I am in the title of the post.

There are in fact many ways a majority can be oppressed.

Here are some— 

1. A majority in can be oppressed if they live in a colony of another nation.

2. A large segment of a national majority group, such as Hindus designated as lower caste in India, may be oppressed by more privileged groups.

3. The majority of people who are not wealthy may be oppressed by the minority that is wealthy.

4. In cases where women comprise a majority of the population, they may not have the same rights as do men.  

5. In Apartheid South Africa, the majority was clearly oppressed. 

6. A certain ethnic, religious or racial group may comprise the majority of people in specific city, state, province or region but be oppressed by a national majority.

7. A group of people, such as Christians in China, may be part of the world’s largest religious grouping, even if Christians do not comprise a majority of all the world’s people, and be oppressed within the borders of a specific nation.

So while I don’t believe American Christians are oppressed, it is very possible for a majority to be oppressed.    

September 24, 2007 Posted by | Best Posts July-Dec. 2007, Blogging, Central Questions, History, Political History, Politics | 1 Comment

Is Political Representation A Two-Way Street? Does, For Example, Apathetic Houston Merit Municipal Representation?

 

This is part of an occasional Texas Liberal series called “Central Questions.”  

Is political representation a “two-way street?” Can a group of voters, or a group of citizens who do not vote, perform their civic duties so poorly that they no longer merit representation?

Here in Houston, for one example, our Mayor and City Council members are limited to three two-year terms. A condition of employment for these officials is acceptance of the fact that your employers, the citizens of Houston, do not trust you beyond a certain point.

Why would someone want that job?

Further, voter turnout in Houston for municipal elections is terrible. Runoffs for council seats have been know to attract between 5% and 10% of voters. Even on General Municipal Election Day, most citizens do not vote.

If people don’t care who represents them, why bother to run?

If the question seems abstract, and there’s nothing wrong with abstract, it might be said that by limiting Council terms and not voting, citizens do, in fact, cede municipal representation to large money donors and interest groups who, for whatever reasons, are involved in the process.

In this way, maybe the “abstract” question does lead to a solid, and distressing, answer.

Above is a “big picture” way to look at Houston.

September 21, 2007 Posted by | Best Posts July-Dec. 2007, Central Questions, Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Politics | 3 Comments

Central Question: How To Reconcile Commitment To Democracy With Often Distressing Nature Of Public?

This is the first installment of an occasional Texas Liberal series called “Central Questions.” 

Today’s question is—–How does one reconcile a commitment to democracy with the often distressing beliefs and actions of the general public?

Possible Answers—

1. Try to see people’s beliefs and actions from their perspective. This takes work and requires sympathy for people who may make little effort to see your side of the debate. Still, it’s worth the trouble.

2. Realize that you are flawed as well. 

3. Consider the view that Democracy in and of itself has merit regardless of the outcome of the democratic process. At core, people must have a say in how they are governed.

4. Consider that in time your views on important issues may gain the ascendancy. For better or worse, few issues are ever fully resolved once and for all. 

5. Consider that this question has no firm answer and that you must take issues and individuals on a case-by-case basis as the situation merits and your personal energy permits.

6. Take actions to move society in the direction you feel is best.    

I’d be happy to hear from the blog reading public any other views on this question.

September 17, 2007 Posted by | Best Posts July-Dec. 2007, Central Questions, Politics | 1 Comment