This week's quote clearly reflects Sargent Shriver's approach to addressing social issues and diffusing conflict. By the time he spoke these words in 1965, Sarge had gone in his life from being a warrior -- fighting in the South Pacific during World War II -- to being a peacemaker and social innovator -- creating the Peace Corps and leading the War on Poverty. He understood conflict very well, and was convinced that all conflict, physical and otherwise, was rooted in the desperation that comes from not having education, economic stability, and political freedom.
The reference to choosing between "butter or guns" continues to be poignant today. As a nation, we are told we must choose between "butter" (i.e., supporting people through expanding social programs domestically and providing humanitarian aid internationally) and "guns" (physically defending ourselves from perceived domestic and international threats). This, we would argue, is a false choice. To be sure, the world is not free from violence and we must be able to defend ourselves from it. However, it is also true that if we do not tackle violence by preventing it through diplomacy and by ensuring stability for as many people as possible, we will never be able to create a more secure world.