My Speech at the Dinner with John Edwards

On Saturday night I had the pleasure of being asked to give an invocation at a dinner with Presidential candidate and former Senator John Edwards. The dinner was hosted by the North Shore Labor Council, and it was a wonderfully successful event– Edwards clearly inspired the over 500 attendees.

There are fortunately a number of intriguing candidates for the 2008 election, but one can’t help but admire Edwards’ attempt to distinguish himself by being a consistent, persistent voice for social justice and against economic inequality. It was a welcome challenge for me to try to speak briefly about Humanism’s connection to this issue, and to Labor politics as well– Humanism and Labor have long been closely connected, but that’s generally been forgotten in today’s American political climate. It would be nice if the reason for this forgetting were that we Humanists wanted to acknowledge our debt to Libertarian economic thinkers as well as populists, but I fear that is less relevant than the simple fact that religion is just assumed to dominate all things political these days. So, here is my little contribution to reuniting issues of Humanism and Labor (and bonus points if you can identify the excellent television drama dealing with issues of religion and social justice from which I adapted a key couple of lines):

This evening as we celebrate the women and men of the North Shore Labor Council, we join hands and raise glasses not for a political meeting, not to raise funds, not even for the purpose of enacting a law promoting a policy. No my friends, this dinner is a celebration of our shared ethics, of our common human values.

Workers in this region and everywhere need someone to represent them and their interests. If this society were to become polarized between an entrenched political class and a disenfranchised working class we would be doomed. We wouldn’t need terrorism to destroy us, we would destroy ourselves. Because of good people like the ones in this room, –Americans and people of all countries– because of the work of your hands, minds and hearts, I have faith America can stem the tide of polarization and become the welcoming and just society she long ago promised to be.

Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Humanists, people of every religion and no religion—Citizens of this country and citizens of every country—we are all citizens of an ever increasingly interdependent world. We are all human beings. We all need the nourishment and sustenance of justice. In that spirit, let us break bread together tonight:

Let us bless our sharing of this simple food.

And let us bring forth forth food from the land

For all of us to enjoy.

4 Comments

  1. Rachel

    June 20, 2007 @ 2:47 pm

    1

    Go Edwards 08!

  2. Siamang

    July 28, 2008 @ 1:21 pm

    2

    repeated word

    ….let us bring forth forth food…

    and umm… yeah, go Edwards 08… lol.

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  4. tomhill

    July 12, 2011 @ 6:57 am

    4

    So awesome that you had this opportunity!

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