Ok, this is really beautiful. Via Matthew Hendley writing for the Phoenix New Times blogs, we read that a second humanist representative, Juan Mendez, has had the chance to deliver the opening prayer for the Arizona House (the first was last May). Monday’s prayer wonderfully combines William Cleary’s “Grace to Shout” with Audre Lorde’s “Litany for Survival”, and it is, to my ear, a far more appropriate opening message for a legislative body than any supplication to a deity could possibly be:
In keeping with the spirit of the Opening Prayer during which we make a petition honoring our most sacred beliefs, I share with you a poem I adapted after hearing it from someone I respect — a prayer from my Humanist worldview that appeals to all our common humanness.
Today I ask for us all
the grace to shout
the grace to shout when it hurts,
even though silence is expected of us,
and the grace to listen when others shout
though it be painful to hear,
the grace to object, to protest, when we feel, taste or observe injustice
believing that even the unjust and arrogant
are human nonetheless
and therefore are worthy of strong efforts to reach them.
Do not choose a path that leads to the heart of despair
but choose to fill yourself with courage and understanding,
Choose to be that person who knows very well
when the moment has come to protest
I ask for us all the grace to be angry
when the weakest are the first to be exploited
and the trapped are squeezed for their meager resources,
when the most deserving are the last to thrive,
and the privileged demand more privilege.
I ask that we seek the inspiration we find inside each other to make our voices heard
when we have something that needs to be said,
something that rises to our lips despite the fear that was created in hopes to silence us,
to make us feel unwelcome
Audre Lorde, writer and civil rights activist asked us,
To remember that when we are silent we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.
And so in closing I ask for us all to have the grace to listen when the many finally rise to speak and their words are an agony for us.
Beautiful and appropriate.
We can’t have that. Cue the obligatory commenter, reminding us that we are guaranteed freedom of, not from, religion, and suggesting that representative Mendez…, well, let’s let the commenter speak for himself:
This idiot athiest must be put shown the door and put on the next bus back to Mexico where he came from. His kind is not welcome here.
The good news is, the other commenters are not agreeing. The bad news is, you don’t have to look far to find scores who do.