Jun 03

Focused Leadership

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 06/03/2019 6:00AM | Quote of the Week | Leadership | Citizenship

Focused Leadership

Focused Leadership

Our Quote of the Week is a stark reminder that to have a political system that functions for the people, we must elect leaders who focus on serving the people. Of course, this statement implies that we too have a role: by being engaged citizens, by being involved in the political process, we can build a society that benefits the many and that discourages political manipulations that preserve power for the few.

Sargent Shriver delivered this speech at Stanford University one week before the 1974 mid-term elections. Like many speeches of his from that era, it is focused on leadership and policy. In his remarks, he states: "I'm not sure we've learned to side with the people against the oligarchs and autocrats." He makes the point that even with the massive scale of the issues that the US and the international community were facing (the aftermath of President Nixon's resignation; the end of the war in Vietnam; the energy crisis; worldwide poverty; and the nuclear arms race, to name a few), we as citizens had to focus on choosing leaders who would first and foremost prioritize the everyday issues, of providing "jobs, food, health, justice, energy, and money." In other words, as engaged citizens, we had to be focused on creating a fair and prosperous society for all of us -- which would require electing leaders who foster such an environment.

Many things have changed since Sargent Shriver spoke these words in 1974, and yet they seem particularly relevant as the race for the 2020 Presidential election swings into gear. We invite you to read this powerful speech, taken from a pivotal moment in US history, but that has undeniable resonance in 2019.

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