City of DeLand (FL) Council Meeting
5 July 2017
Athena Jeanne Hale (371 words - 3:37)

Thank you, Mayor Apgar, Commission Members, Staff, and members of the community for inviting me to give a humanist invocation this evening.

As we gather here to discuss our city and its challenges and needs, let us remember why we chose to take up this mantle of public service: to create as much good as possible for the individual citizens of DeLand and the general public.

We must view diversity and inclusion as our greatest assets in the significant work we do. In order to serve all our constituents we must keep the universal values of human dignity and rights at our core.

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscious and should act toward one another in a Spirit of Brotherhood.”

When we think of these concepts, we usually do so in broad international terms. However, one of the primary architects of the Declaration and the person most responsible for its drafting and adoption, our former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt would disagree. She argued that local governments are at the front lines of human rights work. In remarks before the United Nations in 1958, she asked:

(quote) “Where after all do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: The neighborhood [they] live in; the school or college [they] attend; the factory, farm or office where [they] work. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” (end quote)

As we embark on our work tonight and every day, in whatever capacity we find ourselves, let us all remember that we hold universal human rights and dignity in our own hands, and those we serve are counting on us to protect and defend these values for all of us. Thank you