I haven't updated my blog since December 2012 - until now - not because I didn't have lots to say, but every time I was moved to write, I would open up my blog, see that post about Mr. Rogers, and think, yeah, that's really all that needs to be said now.
I wrote that December blog in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook and the Clackamas mall in Oregon. Since then, we've had the Boston bombings and the latest, deadly tornados in Moore, Oklahoma. The words from Mr. Rogers just seemed right to keep up as my latest post.
I'm finally writing today is because I'm so moved by Democratic Representative Juan Mendez, of Tempe, Arizona, who was tasked with delivering the opening prayer for the May 21 afternoon session of the Arizona House of Representatives. In his "invocation," he said "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... Carl Sagan once wrote, 'For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.'"
Here's the full text of his speech.
as my secular humanist tradition stresses
It gave me chills to read not only his beautiful words, but his affirmation that, indeed, we have a tradition. And it's a tradition based on love and full understanding.
Love is logical. Love makes sense. Valuing other people, feeling affection for humanity, being kind to others - all this makes life more than bearable; it makes life wonderful. It gets us through the tough times and it makes the good times glorious. It creates community - and community is what allows us bounce back after shootings and terrorism and natural disasters.
Sometimes love comes naturally, and sometimes, you have to work at it. But, indeed, "For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love."
UPDATE: Republican Rep. Steve Smith on Wednesday said the statements offered by Rep. Mendez at the beginning of the previous day's floor session wasn't a prayer at all, so he asked other members to join him in a second daily prayer in "repentance," and about half the 60-member body did so. "When there's a time set aside to pray and to pledge, if you are a non-believer, don't ask for time to pray," said Smith.
So, yeah, Atheists, SHUT UP. Rep. Smith says so.