Peter D. A. Wood

PeterD.A.WoodLeon County (Fla.) Commission
April 28, 2015

Words matter. As we gather here today, like many Tuesdays, we stand ready and eager to unite and conduct business as usual. Most meetings use this time to begin procedure with prayer. To some, prayer is a staple of public works. To others, it is a deviation from what our government is constructed to do. Whatever side you may fall on, what we say and how we say it can have implications that extend beyond our immediate surroundings.

Thoughts matter. We all have our convictions, some of which are identical, others which conflict and contradict. That secularism, atheism and even non-Christian belief systems are overwhelmingly underrepresented in Leon County should worry all of us. That today this history changes is cause for optimism.

Actions matter. Rather than bow, fall prostrate, or look inward to connect ourselves to the heavens, let us focus on the one tangible reality we all know and share: each other. Whether we agree with one another or not, it is through cooperation and sacrifice that this county churns, burns and thrives. Ask yourselves: Why are you here, and how do you care to express this motive? Through what you say? How you think? What you do? Today I open our County Commission meeting suggesting we reassess what unity is so that our community can truly grow strong together. E pluribus unum. For it is out of many that a unified voice comes into being.

Peter D.A. Wood is a PhD candidate at Florida State University. Raised in Davenport, Iowa, Peter volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend, is treasurer of the Secular Student Alliance at FSU, and serves as a board member for the Center for Inquiry’s Tallahassee community. His essay, “Religions are responsible for their unclear teachings” earned him a fifth-place award in FFRF’s 2015 Brian Bolton graduate college essay contest.

Freedom From Religion Foundation