Juan Mendez! Yes!
On Tuesday, May 21, Juan Mendez, a 28-year-old Democratic State Representative from Tempe, Arizona, was given the task of delivering the opening prayer for the afternoon session of the House of Representatives. Instead of offering a prayer, Mendez spoke of his secular humanist tradition, while asking those in the room to recognize their shared humanity.
Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads. I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state.
This is a room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration. But this is also a room where, as my secular humanist tradition stresses, by the very fact of being human, we have much more in common than we have differences. We share the same spectrum of potential for care, for compassion, for fear, for joy, for love.
Well…I’m not convinced we all share the same spectrum of potential for compassion, but saying it may help to create the potential, so I won’t argue the point.