Warren Geltch

WarrenGeltchWarren Geltch
Orange County Commission, Orlando, Fla.
July 16, 2015

Thank you. Good morning, mayor and commissioners.

As you know, one of the great things about Orange County is its vast diversity. Every individual in our community is important and deserves to be treated equally, no matter their race, gender, ethnicity, culture, religion or nonreligion. Morally, no one can justify inequality, discrimination or intolerance.

The record shows that through great leadership, and often difficult struggles, our sense of morality has changed and progressed over the course of our nation’s history. But positive changes usually don’t come easily, or quickly. Slavery wasn’t abolished until 90 years after our country’s inception. Women couldn’t vote until 1920 — 144 years after our nation’s inception. Since then, we’ve expanded civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights. However, significant hurdles remain. There is still inequality, discrimination and intolerance.

So how do we continue positive trends pertaining to morality? Well, to have a good moral compass, we must possess two core values. The first core value is empathy. We must be able to place ourselves in the other person’s shoes to understand them and see their point of view. We must really get to know them. When we don’t know them, it’s easy to demonize them. When we do get to know them, we may find that we all primarily want the same things out of life.

The second core value is conscience. We must feel good when we do the right thing and feel bad when we do the wrong thing. We must be accountable and responsible for our own actions. That includes treating others how we ourselves, want to be treated, and making this one life the best we can, not just for ourselves, but for everyone, because every life is precious.

Without empathy and without good conscience, we will not progress.

Mayor and commissioners, you are about to approve a new budget today. Undoubtedly, you will consider many issues during the next fiscal year. The public trust requires that every issue be considered on its own merit, be analyzed thoroughly and decided through rational problem solving, guided by ethics and integrity.

In conclusion, on behalf of the Central Florida Freethought Community, I want to thank you for allowing us to present this secular invocation this morning. Thank you.

Warren Geltch retired as an assistant Orange County administrator in Orlando in 2010 after 35 years of public service. He started his government career as a purchasing agent for the University of South Florida, where he earlier earned a B.A. in marketing. He also holds an M.B.A. from the University of Tampa.

Freedom From Religion Foundation