Seeing the world as “one lifeboat”

“The world is one lifeboat in a sea of stars; there is no cause for joy if our end is sound while the other end is sinking.”
Sargent Shriver |Los Angeles, CA|March 17, 1975

Our Quote of the Week encapsulates Sargent Shriver’s view of humanity in a simple but poetic way. His words remind us that we are all connected, and if some of us are struggling, that struggle impacts all of us.

In 1975, Sargent Shriver gave an Address to the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. A relatively brief and lighthearted speech in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and Irish heritage, the speech makes the serious point that human beings yearn deeply for three seemingly contradictory things: independence, unity, and transcendence. Shriver stresses that building peace and ending poverty would allow us to fulfill these deep yearnings, so that we could live freely while acknowledging our fundamental interconnectedness. To illustrate these powerful points, he used this poetic metaphor for the world as a lifeboat in a sea of stars.

There is much to reflect on if we look at today’s headlines through the lens of this week’s quote. From the devastating impact of floods, fires, high temperatures, and droughts caused by climate change to the destruction brought about by war to the ongoing struggles of those experiencing poverty or injustice, it is plain to see that one end of our collective houseboat is, indeed, at risk of sinking. With millions of us struggling to survive, it is imperative that we remember that we are all connected, and that we must act in a spirit of service to others in our day-to-day activities and in the way we choose our leaders.

May we find the strength to be true citizens and to put into action what we already know: that any effort to be of service to others, particularly those who are most vulnerable, will result in strengthening us all.

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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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