Our first Quote of the Week for 2021 sets a collective intention for us all: to work for a society in which all of us are cared for when we are in need and are given opportunities to live life to our full potential.
In a 1996 Address to the Frederick County Democratic State Central Committee, Sargent Shriver makes a plea to the audience to seek a "common existence":
"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, 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!!!"
Although Shriver's declarations are almost 25 years old, they feel particularly timely as we enter 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has put our population and systems under terrible stress, and the absence of caring, "truthful leadership", to use Shriver's expression, has only increased our challenges. In this moment of acute crisis, we must work together to support the most vulnerable in our communities and we must call on our leaders to do the same. COVID-19 has shown us in tangible ways how connected we are to each other. Acting out of self-interest, in isolation, or simply to accumulate power, has only made the pandemic and its economic fall-out worse. It is past time to internalize the reality of our interconnectedness and to adjust our behavior.
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