"It is not what you get out of life that counts. It's what you give and what is given from the heart."Robert Sargent Shriver
In a career of public service and civic leadership spanning the second half of the 20th century, Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. confronted a range of seemingly intractable conflicts that pitted Americans against each other, and the United States against the Soviet Union. He helped build peace by developing and implementing programs and policies structured to promote long-term, cumulative, peaceable change.
The key to Shriver's legacy of success as a peacebuilder lies in his ability to create feasible, effective programs that promote human dignity and welfare. All the programs he created are informed by a method in peacebuilding he once described as "a formula for practical idealism."
As the head of the Chicago School Board and the Catholic Interracial Council in the late 1950s, Shriver addressed America's racial conflict by leading successful efforts to integrate Chicago's public and parochial school systems. As a senior official in the Kennedy Administration, Shriver created the Peace Corps in response to the global conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union in the Cold War. The Peace Corps is a program that builds peace and friendship by sending Americans to work for human dignity and human welfare in the third world.
As Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity in the Johnson Administration in the mid-1960s, Shriver developed a multi-faceted War on Poverty designed to transform the economic and social roots of the conflict over civil rights in America. Like the Peace Corps, the programs of the War on Poverty - including Head Start, Job Corps, VISTA, Community Action Program, Legal Services to the Poor, and Foster Grandparents - continue to serve Americans today.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Shriver addressed the inter-religious tensions at the heart of the conflict in the Middle East by convening, for over five years, the first official Trialog of the Abrahamic faiths since the Moors ruled medieval Spain. He also addressed domestic and global tensions over America's escalating nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union by securing affirmation of a No First Strike policy by senior U.S. foreign policy officials and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In the 1980s and 1990s, as Chairman of the Board of Special Olympics International, Sargent Shriver joined with his wife and son, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Timothy Perry Shriver, to transform the roots of violence and discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities by promoting Special Olympics Games throughout the world.
seemed to rise all around me as I was beginning my political involvement. They believed government had an essential part to play in expanding civil rights and reducing poverty and inequality.”
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