Our Quote of the Week speaks to an urgent need we have today: we must acknowledge the fact that we are all connected, and we must find ways to work together to solve problems of global importance.
Speaking at the 1997 World Health Organization Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sargent Shriver stressed the importance of collaboration when addressing the worldwide problems of ill health and poverty -- two related issues that know no borders. It is in this context that he reminded the audience of humanity's interconnectedness.
The basic principle that we are all connected and that we must view that connection "dramatically, profoundly, and courageously" guided Sargent Shriver throughout his life. Whether he was working with members of Congress to make the Peace Corps a reality; or creating War on Poverty programs that would empower struggling communities throughout the country; or bringing together religious and political leaders to tackle the issue of nuclear disarmament; or even bringing Special Olympics to countries as diverse as the former Soviet Union, China, Tunisia, New Zealand, and South Korea, Sargent Shriver's unwavering belief that we are all connected allowed him to resolve conflicts, unite people towards a common cause, and to build institutions in ways that would not have been possible otherwise.
Today, our leaders are tackling many of the same issues that Sargent Shriver worked on, and more. The majority of today’s headlines are about challenges that affect communities all over the world: climate change, poverty, health care, migration, trade – all of these require international diplomacy and unprecedented levels of collaboration. It is short-sighted and indeed foolish to believe that we can protect those we perceive of as “our people” and close our eyes or even our borders to shut out the struggles of our neighbors, because those problems will not disappear. Indeed, because we are all connected, those problems will only grow larger, and they will come to affect all of us sooner or later. We must, therefore, have the courage to face everyone around us with the attitude that we are all connected, even in moments of division or conflict. We must have this attitude, and we must support leaders who also adopt this approach.