May 19

Politics as "a competition of ideas and dreams"

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 05/19/2023 6:00AM | Quote of the Week | Public Service | Leadership

Politics as "a competition of ideas and dreams"

Politics as "a competition of ideas and dreams"

Our Quote of the Week defines, quite simply, what politics should and should not be. It prompts us to aspire to a human-centric politics, of service that aims at building peace.

Shriver gave his Commencement Address at Proctor Academy in 1973, just as the Watergate investigation, which led to President Richard Nixon's resignation, was intensifying. With his usual combination of optimism and pragmatism, he encouraged the graduating class to consider a career in politics and he reminded them of the potential of a life in public service. 

Shriver is frank about the disillusionment that many feel towards political leaders. He also stresses: "This is not a partisan issue. Our disillusion is not Democratic or Republican; it reaches adherents of both parties and citizens on every side, and the determination to find the truth does not mark a political division." He is both honest about the fact that there is much to be disillusioned about, and resolute in his belief that we have the ability as citizens and as human beings to live and work together in more positive, productive ways.

We believe that Sargent Shriver's words describe not just what politics should be, but indeed, what they still can be. His words prompt all of us, political leaders as well as all citizens, to work together to find the most suitable solutions to of our biggest challenges as a society. If we each take responsibility for setting the tone about the direction of our politics, if we commit to speaking with each other with respect, and if we approach problem-solving with the intention that the ideas with the best outcomes for our people will be implemented, our debates can lead to concrete change. In the process, we can also transform the tone of political discourse.

We invite you to read the speech from which this quote is taken, the Commencement Address at Proctor Academy. Perhaps Sargent Shriver's words will inspire you today.

Like this quote? Read the speech and subscribe to receive our Quote of the Week by email.

* Required Fields
500 characters remaining