Growing up in the 60’s was an adventure, especially in San Francisco. I can always remember the days of Camelot with names like the Kennedy’s, Martin Luther King and others. One name that comes at me out of the past is that of Sargent Shriver. He was lesser known to most because the Kennedy clan was so large and charismatic, but in his own right he was an enormous person. His good looks, his charismatic style, his deep faith and his boundless energy made him an astonishing leader. Even in the shadow of the Kennedy legacy he was a giant of his times.
He was known most for starting the Peace Corps in which he sent thousands of young Americans around the world to get involved in the lives of people of other nations. It still goes on today. He is also responsible for the “War on Poverty” under the Johnson administration. His involvement stretched far and wide into a world of action. He just didn’t talk about things he made them happen.
I was struck by something that I learned in the recent days since his death. A New York Times article reported that he told graduating students at Yale in 1994 to “break mirrors”. “Yes, indeed, “ he said, “Shatter the glass. In our society that is so self-absorbed, begin to look less at yourself and more at each other. Learn more about the face of your neighbor and less about your own.” I thought to myself, that’s good advice. Too often in our preoccupied self-absorbed universe we don’t have time to notice others. In some ways it echoes Jesus’ words, “lose your life to discover what life is all about.” Matthew 16:25
Today on January 20th, we observe the 50th Anniversary of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s famous inaugural address where he notes that the torch has been passed to a new generation. That same torch of selfless service, giving and caring beyond one’s own life, still rings true to this and every generation. Perhaps it’s time to break a few mirrors again.