|Coat of Arms|
January 12, 2011
Opening Prayer for Opening Session of 2011 Colorado General Assembly
[All photos credited to James Baca/DCR]
Thank you for the invitation to be with you this morning. I think all of us understand the gravity of your work here a little more clearly because of the tragedy in Tucson this past weekend. So as we go about our daily lives this week, let’s remember in special way federal Judge John Roll, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of the violence in Arizona and their families.
Most of us will remember that Teddy Roosevelt was a man who had a deep love for the beauty of Colorado. He also had a reputation for being frank and direct. In 1900, a year before he entered the White House, he wrote these words:
“We can afford to differ on the currency, the tariff and foreign policy; but we cannot afford to differ on the question of honesty if we expect our republic permanently to endure. No community is healthy where it is ever necessary to distinguish one politician among his fellows because ‘he is honest’ . . . [Moreover, it is not] enough that a public official should be honest. No amount of honesty will avail if he is not also brave and wise. The weakling and the coward cannot be saved by honesty alone . . ."
Elsewhere the same year, Roosevelt wrote that
“We are bidden not merely to be harmless as doves, but also as wise as serpents. It is very much easier to carry out the former part of the order than the latter . . . If with the serpent-wisdom we unite the serpent-guile, terrible will be the damage we do; [but] if, with the best of intentions, we can only manage to deserve the epithet of ‘harmless,’ it is hardly worthwhile to have lived in the world at all.”
Leadership requires two virtues that seem very simple until they become very inconvenient: honesty and courage. All of you have earned the right to be here today by winning the trust of the people of Colorado. But along with that honor comes a duty of humility, integrity and public service. So let’s settle our hearts for just a moment in prayer.
God of justice and mercy, thank you for the gift of life, and the opportunity to serve your people. Help us to act with character and conviction; help us to listen with understanding and good will; help us to speak with charity and restraint. Give us a spirit of service. Remind us that we are stewards of your authority. Guide us to be the leaders your people need. Help us see the humanity and dignity of those who disagree with us, and to treat all persons, born and unborn, no matter how weak or poor, with the reverence your creation deserves. And finally Father, renew us with the strength of your presence and the joy of helping to build a world worthy of the human person. We ask this as your sons and daughters, confident in your goodness and love. Amen.