Civil Celebrations Network Blog
Musing upon ceremonies, celebrations and civil society
Simple, yet powerful, civil ceremony
Wow it's an exciting day to be making the first entry here. The day upon which Australia has the first woman as Prime Minister. Unfortunately I only heard snippets of news reports. The one that did catch my interest mentioned Ms Gillard taking the Oath of Office. I did go searching for the wording, but with little success.
So I have written to the Governor General asking for a copy and any information about the ceremonial aspects of government.
The taking of an oath reminded me of the wedding ceremony. Many people think that getting married is about "just signing a piece of paper". Perhaps because the marriage contract is probably the most important legal contract one makes - even more so than buying a property. It can cover custody and inheritance rights as well as property rights.
However it's the vows, not the paperwork, that is important.
As I explain to couples checking me out as a celebrant, they marry one another by the words they say, in front of their witnesses. I record that on behalf of our Government. Should I drop dead :-( between their vows and signing the paperwork, they are still married!
The honouring of that commitment is founded in mind and hearts, not in the ink on paper.
"Giving one's word" is a powerful act, made more so when made publicly. The person making the commitment is made answerable to those present, and in turn the audience honours that promise by holding the person accountable and supporting them at the same time.
I would have liked to have been able to take an "Oath of Office" when I was appointed as a Civil Marriage Celebrant. For I am responsible to the Australian community via the Commonwealth Government, for fulfilling my duties. As a celebrant, I witnesses many public promises - by parents and godparents in Naming ceremonies, by individuals and couples in commitment, betrothals and renewals, and even silent promises to uphold the memory of loved ones in a funeral.
This "giving one's word" seems to me to be an important aspect of all ceremonies. And our social rituals the way we honour our relationships and meet our responsibilities as members of our communities.
I'll be interested to see the what the PM and MP's do swear. It may give us some ideas about what our "Oath of Office" as civil celebrants could be.
I'd be interested in others' suggestions for the latter