For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
— Nelson Mandela

Every major faith, philosophy, and teaching offers us guidance on how to treat one another. Human dignity is fundamental to who we are as a people. When we respect one another and conduct ourselves in an honorable way, we help build a better Bay Area and a better Texas.

So what does that mean?

We need to show each other the kindness, compassion and respect that we want them to show us

In a State as big as Texas, with 27 million people, we're always running into people who see the world differently than we do. We have different family backgrounds, cultural traditions, interactions with our schools, businesses, government, day to day wants and needs and ideas about how we fit in the universe. Each of these together creates a unique life and viewpoint. Showing each other the kindness, compassion and respect that we want for ourselves is the first step in making a Texas where everyone is valued and everyone contributes.

We need to respect every individual's choices and autonomy

There will always be people that make decisions that we disagree with, sometimes very strongly. But part of treating people with dignity is respecting their right to make the decisions that fit their circumstances. We all live difficult, complicated, and often contradictory lives. And there are very few people that can make personal decisions better for us than ourselves. We make those choices based on the information we have and the consultation we receive from our family, friends, faith leaders, community members, and those we trust to give us information we do not have. So while we may disagree with some decisions, we must respect them as we respect each individual. 

We need to demand that our government and elected officials hear and respect our voice

In today's politics, our elected officials too often do not listen to the people. They do not have to because they do not feel the pressure from competitive elections (but we can change that). But even outside of elections, we must demand that our elected officials respect us as citizens and acknowledge our voice. That means:

  • Taking our meetings - in Austin at the Capitol and here in the Bay Area
  • Acknowledging our concerns and giving us their position - even if we disagree
  • Attending community events because sometimes it's hard to find time to go to the office
  • Being our advocate in the system - whether the city, state or federal government is ultimately responsible

We must continue to build our society around the dignity and value of every individual. Because when we are all heard, we can all work together to make Texas even better.