Remarks at the University of Hartford

"You are called to be peacemakers in your families, in your neighborhoods and in your workplaces."
Hartford, Connecticut • May 21, 2004

President Harrison; Provost Randall; Vice Chairman Pryor; my good friend, J.P. van Rooy; and all the distinguished guests.

I am delighted to receive this Honorary Degree from the University of Hartford, especially because it is an institution dedicated to preparing every student for a lifetime of learning and for personal and professional success!

Luckily for me, I have also been blessed by the chance to help, lead and participate in some of the great events and initiatives which were created in the last Century! — “The Peace Corps”, “The Job Corps”, “Head Start,” “VISTA”, “Foster Grandparents”, “Legal Services for the Poor”, “Upward Bound” and “Special Olympics”.

One thing I have learned from these creations is that real personal and professional success is measured by whether you have improved your neighborhood, your town, your state, your country, and your fellow human beings. You will get more satisfaction from those things than you’ll ever get from your muscles, your figure, your automobile, your house or your credit rating.

That is why I am happy that this great University will host the “Special Olympics Connecticut 2004 Eastern Regional Games” tomorrow! Yes, tomorrow!

That “Special Olympics” Movement arose from the genius of just one woman, — Eunice Kennedy Shriver! Her Special Olympics Athletes today will be contributors to “A Peaceful Society” world-wide into the second half of this Century. Those Athletes will open all human hearts. They will help to perfect all human society.

“Special Olympics” Athletes teach each of us that in our own way we can contribute to all of human society.

Each of us, for example, is called on to be a peacemaker! No calling is higher, no calling is more needed. You are called to be peacemakers in your families, in your neighborhoods and in your workplaces. If you want to eliminate guns and all lethal weapons from the world, first you must get them out of our own hearts!

But, how can we do just that?

We can do that only with an open mind, a new spirit, a heart sensitive to the needs of the least of our brothers and sisters and children.

However, it is futile to wait just for leaders to improve society. All of history’s great changes — nonviolent changes — came from below, not from above. It comes from us, and often from the least of us.

From my own life I can tell you. It’s not what you get out of life. It’s what you give to others in life which truly enriches your own life.

So, remember “The Peace Corps Volunteers”, “The Head Start” leaders, “The Special Olympics Athletes”. All in their own way are waging peace! Remember the importance of family — of giving and receiving — of love. For with love and moral leadership, you will begin to change the world of the 21st Century.

In fact, you may well be the first and most important creators of the new 21st Century.

Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us.
Sargent Shriver
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