Last May, Justin Scott delivered the first-ever secular invocation before a meeting of the Waterloo City Council in Iowa, and last night, Melissa Tate delivered the second.
She used the opportunity to talk about both her secular values and her concerns about racial tensions in Waterloo and beyond.
Thank you, Mayor Hart and Council Members for the opportunity to deliver tonight’s Humanist invocation.
I am especially honored as I just became a first-time homeowner in Waterloo. I love Waterloo for its contrasts and beautiful blends of the rural and urban, success and struggle, the black and the white, and everything in between.
Most prayers and invocations in this room begin with a request to bow your heads and close your eyes. I would like to ask, instead, that you take the opportunity to look around the room at all of us here, in this moment, dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people of our city. For this is an invocation of our collective ability to use rational thought, empirical evidence, and compassion to make the best possible decisions for our community.
We call on each other to reflect on our behavior as individuals and as a community. We call on ourselves to be compassionate with each other as we struggle together to embrace change. Let us have compassion for each other as we come to terms with what it means to collectively hold the belief that we live in a meritocracy, and therefore, we understand that our successes came about through hard work, defined by our obstacles and struggles. But we are never asked to see how we are at least equally defined by our privileges.
Sometimes we may be blinded by our privileges and not realize the harm we do with our speech and actions. Occasionally, we may even retaliate when we fear losing something we feel should be ours. We — all of us — have inherited a system that privileges whiteness but finds itself facing changing demographics in a broader culture that is increasingly multicultural.
First, let us have compassion for ourselves and each other as many of us struggle to come to terms with these changing times.
Second, let us come together through rational thought and scientific inquiry to find answers on how to grapple with the issues of our day and to make decisions that are in the best interest of the people of our great city.
What’s especially wonderful about this invocation is that it happened at the request of Mayor Quentin Hart, the same person who signed a Day of Reason proclamation last year and brought back invocation prayers last year with the understanding that it required a diverse group of speakers.
(via Eastern Iowa Atheists)