Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sargent Shriver, "A Good Man"

I just finished reading A Good Man, Mark K. Shriver's highly personal biography of his dad, Sargent Shriver.  Probably few people under the age of forty have heard of Mr. Shriver, but a few essential facts are well documented in Wikipedia, and there is no need for me to try to reword them.

Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr.; November 9, 1915—January 18, 2011) was an American statesman and activist. As the husband of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, he was part of the Kennedy family, serving in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Shriver was the driving force behind the creation of the Peace Corps, founded the Job Corps, Head Start and other programs as the "architect" of Johnson's "War on Poverty" and served as the United States Ambassador to France. During the 1972 U.S. presidential election, he was George McGovern's running mate as the Democratic Party's nominee for U.S. Vice President, replacing Thomas Eagleton who had resigned from the ticket.  (

He was also heavily involved in his wife's founding and operation of The Special Olympics.

The Wikipedia article goes on to say that Shriver was a devout Catholic, attended daily mass, and always carried a rosary.  His son's biography focuses on that central theme of his life, his faith.  Mark sees his father as a person who focused his entire being on loving and serving God and his fellow man with great enthusiasm and without reservation, a strict follower of the two greatest commandments, a man who always lived in the moment, looking forward with excitement to meeting God in the life to come, and worrying not at all about mistakes of the past or challenges of the future.  He took these words of Jesus seriously:
Matthew 6:33-34  But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today. 
Politically, I would be the opposite of Mr. Shriver.  But, my conclusion based on his son's understanding of his life is that if we all loved and served as he did, motivated as he was, all those labels that divide us, conservative and liberal, rich middle class and poor, gay and straight, White, African American, and Hispanic, Democrat, Republican, and Libertarian, would fade into insignificance.  We could be conservative without being A Conservative, liberal without being A Liberal, etc.  Our identities would have nothing to do with race or sex or fiscal leanings.  We would each claim only this identity: "Child and Lover of God."

Read the book.  It is inspirational.

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