Our Quote of the Week asks us to move beyond the "declaration of independence" on which the United States was founded 244 years ago this week. It summons us to make a declaration of something more powerful and transformative: interdependence.
Sargent Shriver spoke these words in his 1975 Announcement for President of the United States. He ran in the 1976 Democratic primary, a race which was ultimately won by Jimmy Carter. Although Shriver did not go on to be the Democratic Presidential candidate, there are many insights to be learned from his campaign, which officially began with this speech. In his remarks, Sargent Shriver spoke about the "crisis of confidence" that Americans were dealing with at the time. They were still recovering from the Watergate scandal, the subsequent resignation of President Richard Nixon, and a severe recession, while high unemployment and growing income inequality were putting a strain on many communities around the country. With all of this intense pressure, Sargent Shriver presented a way forward that was positive and forward-thinking, and his announcement for the presidency reflects that.
In his announcement, Shriver says:
"Mankind has entered 'a new era.' Our philosophic, religious and political beliefs can still provide the framework for our activity in the years ahead. But the problems we now face are different in nature, not just in size, from those we faced before. They will not respond to the old shibboleths and nostrums. Nationalism, jingoism, great power chauvinism, individualism, old-fashioned liberalism, populism, conservatism — none of these alone is sufficient for the future. Instead we must seek a common existence, rooted in our common humanity, which faces worldwide problems requiring common solutions. And, the first place where we must bring our common efforts to bear on our common human problems is here at home."
He also goes on to say:
"Today no nation belongs to any one God or science, or solely to its citizens or its ideology. By circumstance, we belong to a still separated but now seamless world. In such a world, the shaping of a common existence is the precondition of a secure existence — and perhaps of any existence at all."
2020 is raising the awareness of many that a disregard for our most vulnerable people combined with a lack of positive leadership and of large-scale collaboration is not only unsustainable -- it is a deadly combination. Today's news stories remind us that large-scale human challenges and tragedies cannot be contained within any borders, nor can they be solved by unilateral action. Pandemics, natural disasters, violent conflicts, dramatic economic downturns -- any human struggle of this type will sooner or later spill over local and even national borders to affect the global community. It is in these moments that we must remember our interdependence and act in a way that protects our most vulnerable sisters and brothers.