“May each of you in your own personal lives achieve the fullest measure of personal happiness. May each of you also make an important contribution to the society in which you live, to the happiness of others...”
Our Quote of the Week expresses a quintessentially Shriveresque wish for the happiness of his audience, a happiness that includes the ability to serve others.
This week’s quote comes from a very early speech of Sargent Shriver’s, the 1956 Speech to YMCA Youth Citizenship Luncheon. It is one of hundreds of speeches that Shriver gave to young leaders throughout his life. Throughout the speech, Shriver makes a case for the importance of good government and strong leadership, and he reminds his young audience that they are the leaders of the future.
What makes for “good government”? Shriver says:
“It would be easy to predict that a dream government of the future would be popular if it succeeded in doing only two things: 1) reducing taxes, and 2) increasing benefits. It is easy to be popular in these ways, but to be truly successful, our dream government of the future will need leaders who believe in the high destiny and importance of public service – men willing to re-examine the cliches that ‘Politics are dirty,’ that ‘Political patronage is corrupt,’ that ‘The best government is the least government,’ that ‘Foreigners are the cause of our troubles.’ These glittering inaccuracies can best be consigned to the graveyard. Let us not concern ourselves with clichés of the past. Let us modernize our government as we modernize our businesses, and our medical and scientific practices, making it more responsive to the needs of our countrymen and of our times.”
The most basic characteristic of good government, therefore, is a devotion to public service, and it is with this in mind that Shriver gives his closing wish to the audience, as stated in our Quote of the Week.
As we make our way through the holiday season, we extend this same wish to you: for a happiness that fills you with warmth and inspires you to contribute to the well-being of others, to the best of your ability.