Our Quote of the Week describes a key component for building a more
peaceful future for all of us -- fostering a true understanding of the
world's major cultures. As we enter the holiday season, we're reflecting on what can help us bridge the divides that cause fear, tension, and sometimes violence towards those of of different religions, races or ethnic backgrounds.
In a speech about the future of education given 62 years ago, Sargent Shriver outlined the tools available for building a more robust and modern education system, one that is able to truly nurture its students. Sarge was asked to give this speech in his capacity as head of the Chicago Board of Education and the Catholic Interracial Council. He spoke about technology, infrastructure, financial support and collaboration from the public and private sectors. He then went on to talk about his aspirations for "education for the more distant future - the future world of 1980 and 1990 and the world of the 21st Century." It was in this context that he said that for all of us to be able to live in peace, we must educate our young people to understand the main cultures of the past and present: from Ancient Greece and Rome, to the contemporary cultures of the East and West.
Sargent Shriver's response to the question of creating an education system for the future illustrates the ideals that he would later be known for as the first Director of the Peace Corps and the War on Poverty. His prediction for what was most needed in education in the 21st century has turned out to be truly prescient. Our countries are more culturally diverse than ever before. Our leaders (and we all) must be better equipped to handle the significant changes in population brought about by migration, climate change, technology, and other factors. By instilling in our young people a sense that we are all citizens of the world and that we are all interconnected, we can foster increased collaboration and understanding -- and reduce the risk of discrimination and violence.