I have taken the liberty of selecting my own statements from this essay. Russell is referring here to all our fellow human beings and our obligations to all others. It is obvious that in true reconstructionist fashion we could use these statements as a prayer. To pray from Russell would be an inspiration from Kaplan.
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Be it ours to shed sunshine
on the path of our fellow human beings,
to lighten their sorrows by the balm of sympathy,
to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection,
to strengthen failing courage,
to instill faith in hours of despair.
Let us not weigh in grudging scales
their merits and demerits,
but let us think only of their need —
of the sorrows, and difficulties,
and perhaps blindnesses,
that make for the misery of their lives;
let us remember
that they are fellow sufferers in the same darkness,
actors in the same tragedy with ourselves.
And so when their day is over,
when their good
and their evil
have become eternal by the immortality of the past,
be it ours to feel that,
where they suffered,
where they failed,
no deed of ours was the cause;
but wherever a spark of the divine fire
was kindled in their hearts,
we were ready with encouragement,
with brave words
in which high courage glowed.
Versified selection by Mel Scult of lines from an essay by Bertrand Russell: “A Free Man’s Worship,” in Philosophical Essays (1910), pp. 59-70. (This selection begins on page 69.) The essay was later published in Mysticism and logic, and other essays (1917). This prayer was first published by Dr. Scult in his Mordecai M. Kaplan group on Facebook, 28 April 2023.
“Be it ours to shed sunshine — a selection from “A Free Man’s Religious Worship” by Bertrand Russell (1910)” is shared through the Open Siddur Project with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International copyleft license.
Works of related interest:
“All adrift on the stream of life” a prayer for help and self-control by Rabbi Clifton Harby Levy (1927)