For Eshoo, a “values education,” as exemplified in a Sacred Heart education, is key to achieving the common good.
California Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) visited the Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton (SHS) campus Thursday as keynote for the annual Sr. Nancy Morris Faith in Public Life Lecture Series.
Eshoo spoke about the challenges of pursuing the “common good” in politics: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. “Other times what is the common good is not so clear—it is disputed,” said Eshoo. “Disparity of wealth, nuclear weapons, immigration, taxes, and when does life begin.”
For Eshoo, who is Catholic, the best way to work through such difficult questions is through “values education,” which to her is the key to conflict resolution, and is exemplified in a Sacred Heart education.
“It’s an education that demands a commitment to truth, no matter where the truth leads us. What are the elements of a values education that lead to finding the common good on difficult issues in the public forum? The ability to think, evaluate, listen, to share with others humbly knowing we might be wrong sometimes,” said Eshoo.
Acknowledging the disillusionment many feel when observing government today, Eshoo said she finds hope for improvement. Giving the dismantling of South Africa’s apartheid as a successful example of a “commitment to the truth and a collaboration between church and political leadership,” led by Bishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, Eshoo urged the audience not to despair: “It can be done, because it has been done.”
Eshoo’s Catholic faith grounds her in the belief that it is through service to others that life and liberty have meaning.
“We, as Catholics, know that our pursuit of happiness rests on our commitment to feed the hungry, to shelter the homeless, to discriminate against no one, to protect and cherish the earth, to lift up the poor, to welcome the stranger, to bring hope and dignity to all,” she said.
Eshoo spoke of an uplifting moment when Pope Francis addressed Congress in 2015. “He emphasized the first call of public service is the following: to protect by means of the law, the image, and likeness fashioned by God on every human face—may his words inspire us, may his words guide us forward living our faith in public life.”
SHS fourth grader Fiona Lempres attended the event and was able to ask Eshoo some questions, including what inspirational words Eshoo has for young girls hoping to one day enter politics.
“I would like young girls and young women to know that the sky is the limit for them,” Eshoo replied. “That they should reach for the stars, and not allow anyone or anything to diminish their dreams.”