Mar 15

How Do We Wage Peace?

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 03/15/2022 5:56AM | Quote of the Week | Peacebuilding | Peace Corps


Our Quote of the Week, during a moment when Russia's attack on Ukraine is escalating, is a much-needed call to peace.

Sargent Shriver's 1985 Address Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Peace Corps is one of several speeches from Shriver's later years that shows his continued support for the Peace Corps and peacebuilding. Although he spends some time recounting the origins and history of the Peace Corps, he is very much rooted in the present and looking to the future. He asks the audience to focus on a new direction for the country, i.e., "Strength through Peace". He highlights the importance of "seeking peace," and stresses that it is time to move away from a militaristic approach to showing strength, to a broad demonstration of the ability to "wage peace". 

During the period in which Sargent Shriver led the Peace Corps (1961 to 1966), it was his intention that the institution should be an instrument for service, collaboration, and problem-solving so powerful, that it could bring about stability and peace on a global scale. Note that in the speech, Shriver emphasizes the importance of service as a method of "waging peace":

"The Peace Corps' nature was specifically designed to answer Kennedy's challenge [to service]. Its nature was peaceful. Its nature was to call upon all Americans to serve — overseas for at least two years, and to serve at home for the rest of their lives. [...] We should support the idea of a universal opportunity for national service for all young people in our country. I do not mean, solely or primarily, military service. The military couldn't use all our young people anyhow. I recommend, as I have many times before, that we call upon all young persons, and that we pay them a minimum sum, to serve their
 fellow citizens here at home. This service should be as normal as graduation from high school. It should be an accepted part of growing up in America — a common expectation of what's expected from everyone."

Since the early days of the Peace Corps, advancements in everything from transportation to communications have made us significantly more interconnected as a species. We can leverage these connections to make our human family much more unified and prosperous, or, as daily news stories remind us, we can use them to make ourselves more vulnerable to everything from pandemics to climate change to war. The bottom line is that human beings need each other for our very survival — and only by waging peace can we ensure our collective well-being.

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