Our Quote of the Week reminds us that to truly achieve justice, we must proactively address the limitations in our systems that prevent people from living a peaceful, healthy, sustainable life.
Speaking about the Legal Services program to the Illinois State Bar Association in 1966, Sargent Shriver outlined why achieving justice for all must be at the heart of any effort to address poverty. He emphasized that economic opportunity, which the programs of the War on Poverty were designed to expand, must include "full recourse to the law."
Although he gave this address almost 55 years ago, Shriver's words speak to the same issues we're dealing with at this moment. His primary insight in the quote is to address any civil unrest (as evidenced by his reference to "rioters", a dated and pejorative term for "protesters" by today's standards) by providing our most vulnerable with the opportunities and resources necessary to create stability and prosperity--justice, health, education, food, and employment.
We came to this week's quote while reflecting on the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer on trial for the killing of George Floyd, and on the protracted struggles with poverty and injustice we've seen since Mr. Floyd was killed. From cases of racial discrimination and violence to struggles with illness and economic hardship caused by COVID-19, there is no doubt that we are in a period of intense struggle -- and our poorest communities are bearing the brunt of this struggle. While the hardships that our most vulnerable neighbors are experiencing are not new, they have been made more acute and visible to more people because of the COVID-19 crisis.
As we continue to make our way through this difficult period, we must remember that injustices exist in all of our institutions, not just in the legal system, but also in our schools, our churches, our workplaces, and, our health care system. Everyday injustices in every facet of our society compound to create a truly toxic, dehumanizing experience for too many of us, and we can no longer ignore them. Let us seize this moment and push to create more compassionate, just systems that work for all of us.