Break Your Mirrors 20201

Our mission is to inspire commitment, action, and social innovation, following the example of Sargent Shriver. We are answering Sarge’s call: “Break your mirrors!” We invite others to do the same.

On Breaking Your Mirrors

On May 22, 1994, Sargent Shriver gave an address at Yale College Class Day. During his remarks, he gave this call to action:

“Break your mirrors! Yes indeed -- shatter the glass. In our society that is so self-absorbed, begin to look less at yourself and more at each other. Learn more about the face of your neighbor and less about your own.”

“Break your mirrors” is a striking metaphor that captures the distinct approach to peacemaking and social innovation that defined Sargent Shriver's career. Sarge identified the spiritual values of compassion and service as the key to peacemaking and social innovation. To practice “breaking your mirrors” is to practice the spiritual values of compassion and service in an active, intentional way. For this reason, we have adopted Sarge's call to "Break Your Mirrors!" as our tagline and as the basis for our mission.

Like any powerful symbol, Sarge’s call to “break your mirrors” operates on a number of levels. Literally, a mirror is a glass that we gaze into directly. We use mirrors to focus on ourselves. Sarge's call to "break your mirrors” is on one level a call to break our focus on ourselves and to direct it towards others instead. On another level, Sarge’s call to “break your mirrors” is also a call to go beyond the surface impressions of self (and other) that get reflected on a superficial level. As such, it is a call for us to be curious about and to seek to understand others on their own terms, rather than “in our own image.”

In the age of the selfie, we believe that people seek to look beyond themselves and to connect with others in their own communities and across the world. Like Sarge, we believe that by connecting, engaging, and lifting each other up, remarkable things are possible.

Has Sargent Shriver's work inspired you to break your mirrors? If so, email us your story at info@sargentshriver.org. Maybe we'll feature it on our blog!