Rather than asking guidance from anyone or anything today, let us instead take a moment to reflect, and to see who and what is right before us.
As a Humanist, it is not part of my sincerely-held belief to close my eyes in deference to a deity, but rather to look at the people around me and to appreciate how important all of us are to each other. Please take a moment to look around at all the people in this room. Without any judgment, try to see them as simply your fellow Iowans, your fellow Americans, your fellow human beings… all doing the best they can to traverse the trials and the joys of this human life.
Now, imagine the more than 3 million people of this state the same way, without judgment. See the men, women, and children of all races, cultures, and belief systems. Look at individuals of different sexual identities and orientations. Notice people of all different levels of physical, emotional, and mental wellness and ability. Recognize people of different socioeconomic levels and political inclinations.
I could go on and on, because this is a diverse state and it’s becoming more so every day. If there’s any place all people should be able to find respect and inclusion it is here, in this House that represents all Iowans. We each face the consequences of our decisions and actions every day, and for Humanists, this immediacy is particularly important because we don’t think in terms of waiting for an afterlife to atone for whatever wrongs we have done. We believe we must do good right now, because this is the only opportunity we have. For most of us, the consequences of our decisions and actions affect only ourselves or a small number of people around us. But Humanists recognize that, as legislative representatives, you bear the added responsibility of making decisions that will affect each and every one of those more than 3 million diverse individuals.
The positive and negative consequences of these decisions are profound. Today and every day, Iowans hope that you see them, that you respect them, that you acknowledge them, and that you will use reason, compassion, empathy, and a desire to be forces of good in the world to guide your decisions and your actions. Let today not only be a day of reason on the Hill, but also a day of reflection and renewal of the commitment we all have to each other to respect our shared humanity and to move forward with a greater understanding of how our actions impact everyone.
And we ask these things in the name of good.
Nothing in there is anti-religious, and none of it was so offensive that atheists shouldn’t have this opportunity all the time. It was a positive speech advocating reason and rational thinking in politics. How could anyone not appreciate that?
Kudos to State Rep. Art Staed for inviting Gissler to deliver the speech.