Oct 21

"The Shaping of a Common Existence"

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 10/21/2019 12:13PM | Quote of the Week | Foreign Policy | Politics

"The Shaping of a Common Existence"

"The Shaping of a Common Existence"

Our Quote of the Week may be from almost 44 years ago, but it makes some observations that continue to ring true in our hyperconnected world: no matter how much we attempt to separate or isolate ourselves from other countries, we share a common existence. The challenges and threats that we face as nations, therefore, can only be overcome if we acknowledge our interconnectedness, collaborate with each other, and in so doing, uphold the principles of democracy to which we have aspired since the founding of our nation.

This week's quote is from a position paper that was part of Sargent Shriver's 1976 Presidential platform. Entitled "Toward a Democratic Foreign Policy," the paper holds many valuable insights for us today. Commenting on what the nature of US foreign policy ought to be, Sarge states:

"We must have a foreign policy that represents what is best in us and in our history. We must be what we say we are. A democratic foreign policy must reflect these values – faith in the people, willingness to sponsor change, and a commitment to openness and constitutional procedure. For America, there can be no other choice."

Sargent Shriver goes on to make the observations that we see in the Quote of the Week: that we do not have the right to dominate our neighbors in other countries, that other nations have their own powers, their own assets, their own ability to create and destroy, just as we do. The threats he lists in the quote are all too familiar today: nuclear weapons; pollution; overpopulation; the depletion of natural resources; and infectious diseases. These challenges threaten our very existence and know no borders, so the stakes could not be higher. We must remember that we share a common existence, and we must work together, bringing the best of ourselves to collaborate with others.

Sargent Shriver's insights in Toward a Democratic Foreign Policy are too numerous to describe here, but we invite you to read them for yourselves. As we evaluate what we need from our political leaders and head towards our next election, Sargent Shriver's Presidential position paper from over four decades ago has some meaningful insights for the leaders of today and tomorrow.


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