Our Quote of the Week suggests that we can empower ourselves by focusing on something larger than ourselves: service to our communities and to those more vulnerable than ourselves. By empowering others, we commit fully to our society and strengthen our own sense of citizenship.
In 1968, Sargent Shriver addressed a student assembly at the University of Notre Dame, where he spoke these words. At the time, he had been leading the War on Poverty as Director of the Office of the Economic Opportunity for almost four years. He spoke of the "crisis" the country found itself in, with an escalating war in Vietnam and civil and political unrest at home. It was in this context that he made his call to service.
Many years have passed since Sargent Shriver spoke these words. However, many of us feel that we are again in a period of crisis and great uncertainty as a country. How can we deal with the powerlessness we may feel at this moment? Sargent Shriver suggests that we use our energy and our time to serve those around us who have less power and privilege than we have. When we focus on a larger purpose and we use our skills and our time to empower others, we create a positive cycle that can only benefit all of us.
To be sure, we can empower ourselves politically by staying informed, by communicating with our political representatives when necessary, and by voting. But in addition to that, we can certainly shape our society by empowering our most vulnerable neighbors.