How Can We Live Together in Peace?

“How can all of us — white, black, yellow and brown people — of different nations and different cultures — live together in peace? Instead of concentrating almost wholly on teaching Anglo-Saxon culture in our high schools and colleges, I suggest that we start to offer courses in the seven great world cultures, six of which are now vying for space on our ever-diminishing globe. The cultures I suggest are these: the Moslem Culture; the Hindu or Indian Culture; the Chinese or Japanese Culture; African Culture; Hebrew Culture; Christian Culture; and by way of background and perspective, the Classical Cultures of Greece and Rome.”
Sargent Shriver |Chicago, IL| July 9, 1957

Our Quote of the Week lays out a key component for building a more peaceful future for all of us -- fostering a true appreciation of the world’s major cultures. Sargent Shriver’s message of understanding and connection has a marked urgency today: all over the world, we see fear and ignorance of other cultures, races, religions and lifestyles tear at the fabric of communities, leading to discrimination and violence.

In a speech about the future of education given almost 62 years ago, Sargent Shriver outlined the tools available for building a more robust and modern education system, one that is able to truly nurture its students. Sarge was asked to give this speech in his capacity as head of the Chicago Board of Education and the Catholic Interracial Council. He spoke about technology, infrastructure, and financial support and collaboration from the public and private sectors. He then went on to talk about his aspirations for “education for the more distant future - the future world of 1980 and 1990 and the world of the 21st Century.” It was in this context that he said that for all of us to be able to live in peace, we must educate our young people to understand the main cultures of the past and present: from Ancient Greece and Rome, to the contemporary cultures of the East and West.

Sargent Shriver’s response to the question of creating an education system for the future illustrates the ideals that he would later be known for when he stepped onto the world stage as the first Director of the Peace Corps. His prediction for what was most needed in education in the 21st century has turned out to be truly prescient. By instilling in our young people a sense that we are all citizens of the world and that we are all interconnected, we can foster increased collaboration and understanding -- and reduce the risk of discrimination and violence.

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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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