tim shriver

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” This quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. is how Tim Shriver started yesterday’s evening event.

On Nov. 6, Tim Shriver came to Indiana State University and spoke in Tilson Auditorium about the history of the disability rights movement, the creation of Special Olympics, and the importance of respect and acceptance with the understanding of what matters most in life. 

Shriver is a chairmen on the Special Olympics and is the son of Special Olympics founder Eunice Shriver and currently serves more than 3 million athletes in over 180 different countries. 

Shriver wrote a book called, “Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most” to tell the story of this movement and to share an old saying, don’t judge a book by its cover. 

“When we judge books by their covers, we most of the time get it wrong and that’s a blanket of judgment and a blanket statement but I think at least in our movement there’s a lot of evidence for it,” said Shriver. 

Shriver’s aunt, Rosemary Kennedy was born with a disability and grew up at home instead of being institutionalized because of the harsh conditions. The world judged her by that cover and made a definitive statement which was negative. 

“I think at some level, what happens in moments of tension when judgements have been exercised, when you know they’re wrong, you know they’re wrong the world doesn’t know they’re wrong but you do,” said Shriver. “And it’s your sister who’s sitting alone with no one to talk and no one to care about, you know she needs you and you learn her way what’s it’s like to care.” 

Shriver’s family, specifically his mother Eunice Shriver, expressed how to bring love and light from darkness and hate. Eunice loved sports and thought one way she could change the world is to play sports. She created a summer camp on a farm called Camp Shriver where all different kinds of people with disabilities would come together. 

One of the factors that contributed to the making of Camp Shriver were the staff ages from 15-to-25-year-olds. “We’re going to go someplace where radical energy exist, it’s going to be young people who are going to make this revolution happen,” said Shriver. 

“We are living in an epidemic of otherings,” said Shriver. Shriver has done calls, ethnographies and qualitative studies over the last year about the language we use with each other and it is identical on both sides of our divides. 

“This is classic case of an internalized shame,” Said Shriver. “A Divisiveness becoming its own toxin.” Shriver thinks this way because after a while in the United States people put their children in institutions not because they thought about it but because that is what everyone else did. 

Shriver says because of our toxic culture and a cycle of hate, kids are becoming disengaged and do not want a world divided of them and us.

 “If we want to change it, we’re going to have to look to people like the athletes in Special Olympics,” said Shriver. “This is a movement, a global movement that has within it the teachers necessary to end toxic division and othering.” 

Shriver ended his presentation on the note he hopes in this next generation, the disabilities rights movement shifts out of them and us and recognize that it’s just us. 

You can find his book, “Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most” on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play Books.