Dec 14

Justice = Safety

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 12/14/2020 3:57PM | Quote of the Week | Justice | War on Poverty


Our Quote of the Week reminds us that ensuring people's physical safety is an important component of justice in a stable and caring society.

In 1974, Sargent Shriver gave a speech at Wake Forest University on the topic of "The Injustice of Justice in America". An attorney by profession, Sargent Shriver was able to articulate how all of the work he had done to date, with civil rights, Peace Corps, the War on Poverty, and poverty law, could be seen through the lens of justice. This sweeping and memorable speech includes one of our favorite quotes:

"The failure to provide justice is not just an abstraction. It has serious consequences. Justice releases creativity, spurs us to action and generates harmony. Injustice causes anger and frustration. Injustice festers and rankles. It makes life intolerable and bereft of dignity. Injustice breeds violence, sows the seeds of rebellion."

But how, exactly, do we define justice? As Sargent Shriver points out in vivid detail, providing justice encompasses a variety of things, from ensuring that we have a fair and compassionate system of law enforcement, to securing civil rights, to providing economic opportunity and support to those struggling with poverty, to safeguarding people's physical safety. It is this final category that Sargent Shriver highlights in our Quote of the Week.

We have often fallen short when it comes to ensuring that our population, particularly the most vulnerable among us, can live in safety. And the threats that many of us face have now grown with the COVID-19 pandemic. As we head towards a new year, we must work together, and we must hold our newly-elected political leaders accountable, to ensure that public safety is a priority. This means ensuring that people have, among other things, "safe food and safe drugs, safe housing and safe appliances, safe job sites and safe air and water."

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