On Monday night in Osceola County, Florida, Jason Grooms delivered a secular invocation during a Commission meeting. Grooms didn’t hide who he was representing and even invoked Charles Darwin.
First I would like to thank the County Commission for offering me this opportunity. As a proud central Florida resident for over 40 years, it is my honor to stand here before you this evening to offer words of encouragement and inspiration to begin this meeting.
It is also my honor as a Humanist Celebrant to represent the atheist, agnostic, and Humanist citizens of this county.
Instead of bowing our heads tonight, please lift them up and look around you. Take a moment to look at your fellow citizens in the room this evening. Look each of them directly in the eyes. Look past their politics. Look past their beliefs and religion. Look past their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other label that we artificially assign.
Look into their eyes and realize that every single person in this room has inherent, unequivocal, and unquestionable value as a human being. Realize that they have the same hopes and dreams that we do. They want to love and be loved. These people around you are neighbors we know and neighbors we have yet to meet.
As a species, we have survived and even thrived because of our ability to come together as a community and recognize our similarities, to bond with our fellow human beings. It is our similarities that move us forward and our ability to recognize the value and worth of our entire community that makes us great.
During the meeting and even after you leave here tonight, it is my hope that you will remember what you saw in your neighbors’ eyes. That you remember what you have in common and focus on what we all can do to aspire to the greater good of humanity.
I would like to close with a quote from Charles Darwin:
As man advances in civilization and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.
The Central Florida Freethought Community is organizing several more of these invocations all over the state. You can see their running list — along with a compilation of transcripts of secular invocations around the country — right here.
(Thanks to CFFC’s David Williamson for the video and transcript)