What is a Humanist Invocation?
A humanist invocation is a short speech, usually performed in a public forum like city council meetings or legislative session, that calls upon the audience’s shared human values to connect us, foster a sense of purpose, and inspire action for the well-being of humanity. Unlike a traditional prayer or invocation, a humanist invocation does not call upon a supernatural entity as a guide. Instead, it reminds us of our capacity and responsibility to guide ourselves and others to live good lives in service to the general welfare of our communities and humanity as a whole. A humanist invocation emphasizes the bounds within which our public discourse should be held without disenfranchising other groups. Humanist invocations call upon those involved to exercise their humanity while highlighting the importance of compassion, empathy, reason, justice, humility, and similar values. Above all, it reminds us of what is important by constricting a shared vision of a higher purpose–namely, our responsibilities to each other and the world around us.
Where Are These Invocations Held?
Generally, invocations are performed before important public events. These events can include the inauguration of a public official, the start of a public meeting, etc. They are widely performed during government proceedings, but unfortunately they tend to be overwhelmingly sectarian and theistic. While they are normally required to be non-denominational, that alone doesn’t ensure that it is applicable to all, especially since non-denominational invocations still tend to invoke supernatural entities. Humanist invocations on the other hand strive to unify all with a message that members of various belief systems can support and act on.