“We must work in a spirit of cooperation, and with a commitment to our own principles. We will be rewarded, by history and at the polls, if we play the proper role of the loyal opposition — loyal to our conscience and our country, opposed to the easy expediency of trying to please everyone by standing for nothing unless it is already popular.”
Our Quote of the Week describes a way for us to move forward in our politics but is useful advice for daily life, as well.
Sargent Shriver spoke these words at the Alabama Young Democrats Convention on September 6, 1974. The convention was held four weeks after President Richard Nixon had resigned from office and Gerald Ford was sworn in as the 38th President of the United States. In this moment of rupture and uncertainty for the country, Sargent Shriver gave a fiery speech about renewal and purpose, proposing a way of working with Republicans that was candid about his disappointments but also reflected his positive attitude. While he never set aside his personal values, Sargent Shriver fostered collaboration, even in difficult moments. This ability of Sarge’s was an asset throughout his career, as shown in the way he built the Peace Corps as well and the programs of the War on Poverty from the ground up.
The approach that Sargent Shriver proposes is easy to articulate, but it can be difficult to maintain. And yet, in any situation where we must collaborate with peers with disparate and at times opposing points of view, we must use our principles as our compass and approach our problem-solving with others in a way that fosters collaboration. As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 crisis and as we move towards the Presidential election later this year, let us support leaders who are able to do what Sargent Shriver describes -- foster collaboration while never forgetting the principles that will uplift and empower all of us. And let us set the intention to follow Sargent Shriver’s example ourselves.