City of Sanford (FL) Commission Meeting
14 September 2015
David Williamson (410 words - 2:30)

Mr. Mayor, Commissioners, [FL] Representative [Jason] Brodeur. Members of the community. Welcome to one and all.

First I want to express my gratitude to the Commission for including the Central Florida Freethought Community in tonight’s meeting. We look forward to continued support and participation. While we cannot offer the legislative prayer the agenda calls for; atheists, humanists, freethinkers, religious skeptics, and other non-believers can provide something special—which no prayer could ever accomplish.

As we do in every other public setting—we live, work, play, learn, and we govern more effectively and harmoniously when we find amazing ways to unite instead of divide. Only those remarks that regard the common interests of all in attendance—and not just to the beliefs of some—can embrace the entire room, can speak on behalf of the community as a whole, and will be shared by all those who visit and who know Sanford as The Friendly City.

A secular invocation—not unlike a moment of silence—is welcoming to everyone. Otherwise the speech not only falls short—it may even alienate some of those who seek an audience with the Commission. Best of all, anyone can do it. Let’s give it a shot tonight:

As the community gathers this evening, let us briefly reflect on the things you, as a Commission, bring with you to do the business of improving the City of Sanford for residents, the many businesses, and cherished visitors.

Wisdom is often called for during an invocation, however all the knowledge needed is already right here in this chamber. Your fellow commissioners, the hard-working city staff, as well as citizens and business owners come to serve along with you and to be a resource to call upon.

Compassion is essential for effective public service and it is cultivated through a lifetime of learning about the needs of everyone in the community and the harm that follows when those needs are neglected.

Your integrity and honesty are earned through life lessons you take from family, friends, and your own personal experiences of these principles in everyone around you.

As we unite with the common goal of improving the lives of all stakeholders and even those who will be affected by this evening’s decisions for generations to come, take solace in the fact that on our own we can do this, because of who we are, because we have one another, and simply because it must be done.

So let’s get to work!