Getting Back to Basics in the Nuclear Age

“In this nuclear age, we must stop relying on weapons of war. Instead, we must rely on the strength of our ideas, our values, our firm conviction that ‘all men are created equal,’ and that ‘Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness’ are the dream of all people everywhere.”
Sargent Shriver | Boston, MA | March 1, 1986

In the 1970s and 1980s, Sargent Shriver was actively engaged in de-escalating the threat posed by the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. He was therefore well-versed in peacebuilding in the nuclear age. The principles that Sarge focused on in these years were much the same as the ones he focused on throughout his life: that all human beings wanted equality and safety, and wished to live their lives with the freedom to pursue the opportunities they chose for themselves and their families.

Today, we are once again seeing the nuclear threat escalate. The US is warning it could de-certify the Iran nuclear deal and it is simultaneously escalating tensions with North Korea, a nuclear power that is itself heightening tensions by continuing to perform high-profile tests of ballistic missiles. Let us remember, and let us remind our leaders, that all human beings want to feel safe and free to live the best lives they can live. It is something that we all have in common, and only through acknowledging each other’s humanity can we diffuse the threat of unprecedented violence that we now face.

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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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