Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: What Happens When You Protect Your Values
“Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.” — Thurgood Marshall
After my daughter watched the documentary Finding Neverland the other night, she wrote me a note that landed deep in my soul.
She said, “Thank you for such a wonderful childhood. Thank you for loving me. And, perhaps most importantly, thank you for always protecting me.”
I sat and stared at those last two words.
Protecting my children has always been a huge deal to me. I know it is for most parents. It’s our job to keep our children safe. It’s our job to be on guard against people or situations that might seem appealing, but are actually dangerous. It’s our job to build resilient children who can pave their own way and stand on their own two feet.
Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about the role of “the protector.” I’ve thought about how, when I was young and naive, I thought it was a man’s job to protect. Now as a seasoned protector myself, I no longer hold onto that childish view.
In this day and age, we all need to be protectors. We must not only protect ourselves and our families, but we also must protect the values and the causes that we hold dear to our hearts.
This week, when U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed eliminating all federal funding to the Special Olympics, the outcry was deafening. “Not on our watch,” said the millions of us who support this organization and believe in the life-changing work it’s doing in our public schools.
Elected officials from both parties also said, “Hell no. We will protect this funding and protect this work, which is at the heart of building a more inclusive, unified and tolerant nation.”
Needless to say, I was relieved and elated on Thursday when I learned that President Trump had rescinded the decision to cut federal funding from the Special Olympics. To me, this was an example to me of what’s possible when we, the people, rise up and use our voices for something we believe in. It was an example of what happens when we fiercely fight to protect what matters to us.
Through its work in our public schools, the Special Olympics is not only transforming the lives of those with special needs. It is also teaching all of our students about the importance of acceptance and equality for all. This kind of education is exactly what our schools should be providing for all of us who seek to learn, live and work in a more inclusive country.
The work of a protector has never been more important and more needed than it is today. What happened this week is one example of that, but it’s not the only one. There are so many other causes and issues we believe in and must defend and protect. This is why I won’t give up on the fight to increase funding for Alzheimer’s research. This is why I won’t give up on the fight to protect the Earth — our shared home. This is why I won’t give up on the fight to protect our right to free speech, free press, and to a health care system that actually cares for us at all stages of our lives.
These days, our values are on the line. Our principles and our decency are also on the line. Our whole nation is on the line. That’s why this moment is as good as any to ask oneself, “Am I a protector? What does that even mean to me? What do I want to protect? Am I doing enough to protect it?”
Imagine if more of us saw protecting as our job. Imagine if we saw it as our responsibility to not just protect those we love, but to also protect the values, the freedoms, the human rights and the dignities that our parents and our fellow citizens fought for before us.
Perhaps if we saw ourselves in this way, then our shared mission might become clearer to us all. Perhaps our common ground would be more visible. Perhaps our shared humanity would be seen as something we can all work together to protect and move forward.
So today, think of yourself as a protector. Don’t assign that job to someone else. After all, we are not living in some action-adventure movie where some caped crusader is going to come down and save us.
It’s up to each us to be a protector. After this week, there is no doubt in my mind that we are up to the task.
Dear God, thank you for building a beautiful, diverse world made up of so many different people — all who deserve to feel included. Amen.
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Dr. Kathleen Allen Explains Why Perfectionism Isn’t Nature’s Way
We can all learn a lot from nature. Dr. Kathleen Allen, a leadership consultant and author of “Leading from the Roots: Nature Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today’s World.” Dr. Allen has written an exclusive essay for The Sunday Paper that offers advice on how to fight the urge to be perfect with a few ideas to help you on the path to a more natural state of being.
Author Erling Kagge Explores the Silence Around Us, the Silence Within Us, and the Silence We Must Create
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INFORMATIVE NEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
1. The Nation Came Together For a Good Cause and It Made a Difference: We rose above party and we came together to move humanity forward. If we did it once, we can do it again. Read this op-ed about the unifying power of the Special Olympics that I wrote with John Kasich for CNN Opinion.
2. Landmark Bill Would Ban Toxic Ingredients From Cosmetics: This is very encouraging news. AB 495, the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, introduced by California lawmakers this week, would ban asbestos, lead, formaldehyde, and 17 other toxic chemicals in cosmetics.
3. After These Teen Boys Rated Their Female Classmates On Looks, The Girls Fought Back: I am proud of these young women for standing up for themselves after their male classmates began circulating a list that ranked each of them by looks. This behavior is unacceptable in this day and age.
4. Why Human Contact Has Become a Luxury: This is an interesting read from the New York Times positing that conspicuous human interaction—living without a phone for a day—has become a status symbol for the wealthy and something that is becoming increasingly out of reach for lower-income individuals.
5. Americans Are Not Having Enough Sex: This is interesting news. Apparently, the number of U.S. adults reporting no sex in the past year reached an all-time high in 2018, “underscoring a three-decade trend line marked by an aging population and higher numbers of unattached people.”
6. How Small, Daily Gestures Can Help Improve and Maintain Our Relationships: I love this advice from Dr. John Gottman, co-founder of The Gottman Institute. He explains how “bids to connect” can help create happier, healthier relationships.
7. Following Two Parkland Suicides, Here’s How to Help Teens Struggling with Trauma: The recent Parkland shooting-related suicides underscore the importance of providing long-term support to those who are living with trauma. Mental health experts are urging parents and educators to start conversations to support teenagers long after traumatic events are over.
8. How to Handle Family Politics in the Age of Trump: The timing for this piece from The Atlantic could not be more appropriate. The co-authors of the new book I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening) offer insight into how to have divided political conversations with wisdom and grace.
9. Yippee Moment of the Week! What a joyful scene. Lakesha Ball, a mother of five who was previously diagnosed with breast cancer, was recorded excitedly ringing a bell after learning she’s cancer-free.
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A RECIPE FOR YOUR SUNDAY DINNER
We are proud to share this healthy recipe from our Sunday Paper Ambassador Mary Abitanto for Cauliflower, Chickpeas & Thyme. This recipe, which comes from Mary’s cookbook “Mariooch’s Kitchen Food That Will Gather Your Family,” is a one-pot meal that’s tasty, super easy and great for those busy nights. Enjoy!
A SUNDAY REFLECTION
SHOP, SHOP SHOP! AThe Maria Shriver Collection: Good for You, Your Mind, & the World
Visit the shop on MariaShriver.com to get Maria’s book “I’ve Been Thinking,” her coloring book for Alzheimer’s “Color Your Mind,” the Maria candle, Rivet Revolution bracelets benefiting The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, her new Maria BrainHQ program, and more!
PRAISE FOR THE SUNDAY PAPER
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