As the nation reels from Charleston’s church massacre, Maria Shriver honors those lost and reflects on faith, the need for Alzheimer’s funding and the power of meditation. The mother of four, Peabody and Emmy Award winning journalist, best-selling author and founder of the Wipe Out Alzheimer’s Challenge in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association is the latest notable to curate OZY’s Presidential Daily Brief, giving her take on today’s must-know news, people and trends. Past curators include Jeb Bush, Arianna Huffington and Tony Blair.
The Presidential Daily Brief
We’ve all been invited to celebrate love. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision Friday legalizing gay marriage nationwide settles the debate, and I applaud everyone’s right to speak, live and honor their authentic selves. As I’ve said before, it’s wonderful that American society is becoming more inclusive in how it defines marriage. I agree with President Obama that “when all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.” Activists have fought for this right for decades, and I’m pleased that the justices found the courage to say yes.
Since the murders of nine worshipers at the Emanuel AME Church, headlines have debated everything from the mental health of Dylann Roof to gun reform and flying the Confederate flag. But as a member of a family that has experienced tragic losses through gun violence, I hope we can delve deeper and open our minds and hearts and, dare I say, have a reasonable discussion about violence, race and mental health. It’s important to pause and pay tribute to those who lost their lives, as well as their families, fellow worshipers and neighbors. I only wish I’d learned more about the victims’ lives before their untimely deaths.
Every 67 seconds a person develops Alzheimer’s — two-thirds are women — and one of those affected was my father. By 2050 an estimated 16 million Americans could be living with the disease, for which there is no cure. As a daughter of Alzheimer’s, my heart is with the over 5 million current sufferers, and I’m encouraged by recent legislative action toward a bill that would grant an additional $350 million to fund Alzheimer’s research. I believe the cure is in a test tube, and we need to be educated, engaged and willing to fund this critical research.
It was an act of faith. Pope Francis challenged a global audience to protect the planet from climate change in his highly anticipated encyclical, released last week. “The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” he said in a radical message, delivered in the no-nonsense style that has endeared him to 9 out of 10 Catholics. I recognize the positive impact Francis has had and agree that “human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves” to make a fresh start. Ahead of his U.S. visit this September, I hope fellow Americans will heed his call for change. I know I will.
Police shoot, capture David Sweat 22 days after N.Y. escape. (NYT)
Greece to close banks, control capital as debt crisis spirals. (BBC)
SpaceX rocket explodes after liftoff to resupply ISS. (USA Today)
Taiwan authorities probe concert fire that burned nearly 500. (Reuters)
Chris Squire, bassist and co-founder of Yes, dies at age 67. (Variety)
I enjoyed reading Obama’s take on how his time in the White House has made him a better parent. He and the first lady “carve out certain blocks of family time that are sacrosanct.” This year, our “Shriver Report Snapshot: An Insight Into the 21st Century Man” found that 3 in 5 American men view personal success with family and being a good father, husband or son as more significant markers of achievement than financial earnings. I know that the time I spend with my children is the most precious of my day, so I applaud the Obamas for making time for one another.
On a recent trip to Tokyo to visit my cousin, Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, I was impressed by the fortitude of Japan’s aging population and the respect they are afforded. Sadly, after a certain age, Americans are often forgotten and discredited, rather than revered for their life experiences and wisdom. Present Perfect, a new feature-length documentary by filmmaker Evan Briggs, shows a smart solution to eldercare: intergenerational care facilities where preschoolers and senior citizens care for and learn from one another. Spoiler alert: It’s a tearjerker.
It’s about time. The $10 bill will soon feature a woman’s face, a move that’s long overdue considering many of America’s proudest moments were made possible by women. Two women are running for president, a growing number have landed on the Fortune 500 list — and they all stand on the shoulders of their forerunners. My own mother gets my nomination. As founder of the Special Olympics and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for supporting people with disabilities, Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the only living woman to appear on a U.S. coin: the 1995 commemorative silver dollar. But I’ll support any exceptional woman who breaks this glass ceiling.
Clear your mind. As a new meditator, I can attest to how the time I spend reflecting each day helps empower me. To mark Alzheimer’s and Brain Health Awareness Month, I teamed up with Equinox to host an afternoon of yoga, meditation and brain-powered conversation. Last weekend, I had the honor of hearing Pema Chödrön speak. The Buddhist nun, teacher and author urged us to create a “gap” in our lives. And a new Harvard study proves how regular meditation physically alters our brains in positive ways, providing even more incentive to turn inward.
The torch is on its way to Los Angeles, where some 7,000 athletes from 177 countries will compete and demonstrate their courage, determination and sportsmanship. In celebrating their feats, I hope Americans will reflect upon society’s views of men and women with intellectual disabilities and work toward deeper acceptance. The flame — currently making its way across the Midwest — burns bright inside each competitor, and I applaud the pope’s encouragement for athletes to enjoy the games in a “joyful, passionate, serene manner” while having fun. Amen!
More than 11 million senior citizens live alone in the U.S., and the Family and Medical Leave Act is still used most by those taking time off to care for aging relatives. I was so inspired by the story of Inez Russell, a Texan who found herself comforting a dying elderly woman in the hospital — and went on to launch Friends for Life in 1986. The nonprofit has since paired 22,000 aging Americans with volunteers. As America ages, we need paid leave for caregivers and supportive communities — and more people like Inez Russell.