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Secular invocation: Andre Ryland

Andre Ryland

Andre Ryland

Pensacola City Council

Feb. 14, 2019

Oh, great compelling mindful force that is the wisdom of experiential human life, be with these council members this evening as they try their very best to do the people’s business.

I call upon you, oh, great wisdom, to allow me to invoke these council members to an understanding of my words that explain our humanist aspirations to lead lives of a natural progressive lifestance, that affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity.

And, to understand that we desire to be informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, we support the maximization of individual liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility.

We advocate the extension of participatory democracy and the expansion of the open society, standing for human rights and social justice, from the outcast leper to the homeless. And we assert that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny. Therefore, we, as humanists, put our belief and faith and trust and hope in each other.

Oh, great quest of wisdom, be with us gathered here to recognize each other in equality, as equal members of the human race, and to not assume one or the other is not equal in the desire for our American Declaration of Independence’s clarion call of the pursuit of happiness and liberty and justice for all.

Oh, great caring force of wisdom, allow us all to hear the calls for this human need of common understanding to be one together and not separate and segregated in our learning.

Listen to the requests of humanity throughout the ages, for example, with the timeless call of the golden rule or understanding of the law of reciprocity, which is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated. It is a maxim of altruism seen in many human religions and human cultures. The concept occurs in some form in nearly every religion and ethical tradition.

This golden rule of reciprocity can also be explained from the perspectives of psychology, philosophy, sociology, human evolution and economics, which are the cornerstones of life.

Oh, great hope of wisdom, let us continue to garner the truth inherent in the golden rule with these tenets of ancient wisdom: Forgive one who wrongs you, join one who cuts you off, do good to one who does bad to you, and speak the truth though it weigh against yourself. 

Let us now be unbowed and unfettered by arcane doctrines borne of fearful minds in darkened times. Let us reason our solutions with agnosticism in all things, holding fast only to that which is demonstrably true.

Therefore, I finish this invocation for wisdom to you, the council of the city of Pensacola, with this:

We come here to do the business of local government, the deliberative body that is closest to “we the people,” and to democracy for which we stand.

As we gather, we are reminded that in our differences there is great strength. We do not all think the same way or believe the same things. Yet, we are linked by our common humanity and our shared origin of life, through hope and love.

When we work together to move our community forward in a spirit of mutual respect and common decency for all, we showcase what is best about our community, our state, and this,  one nation, indivisible, as its goal.

To be sure, we do not agree about everything. And we often feel fiercely protective of what we do believe. There is great passion in our beliefs, and great passion in our reasons, and rightly so.

But there is one thing on which we all can agree: We share the goal of making our community the best place it can be. Let us come together here tonight around that noble aim and common purpose, to be one human family — e pluribus unum, out of many, one.

As it is, and is to be, human.

FFRF Member Andre Ryland is a notary public and a celebrant of the Humanists of West Florida, a chartered chapter of the American Humanist Association.