Is your arc bending toward justice?

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” — abolitionist Theodore Parker, as quoted by Martin Luther King Jr.

King may have borrowed that quote from a 19th-century abolitionist clergyman, but King’s the one who popularized it.

What the phrase means, essentially – at least the context King used it – is that we may take one step backward, but we as the human race will always take two steps forward toward justice and equity.

We believe that’s true, but we believe that’s only true if the great majority of us humans pay close attention to our own arcs to make sure we’re bending the right way.

That’s what today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is all about.

The holiday, held on the third Monday of every January in honor of King’s Jan. 15 birthday, is a chance to reflect on the legacy of the martyred civil rights icon.

We believe, however, that that reflection happens too often on the macro level, with ruminations on the state of national or state civil rights, the progress or lack thereof of laws or policies meant to enshrine civil rights into our legislative framework.

Too rarely does that reflection happen where it ought to most: at the personal level.

So, today, we ask each and every reader to pause and look inside yourself, ask if your words and actions further or hinder justice not in America but in your neighborhood, your community, your family. It is OK to make mistakes, but, on the long arc, do you bend toward a mindset that all men are created equal and entitled to equal protections and respect and love? Do you feel you’ve furthered the cause, or do you bend the wrong way or do you not bend at all?

If you’re bending the wrong way or not bending at all, ask yourself what you’d like to change to set your arc of your personal history on its proper course.

If we all did that, if we all bent toward justice in every interaction with our fellow brethren, we wouldn’t need those laws to make sure it happens.

Happy MLK Jr. Day.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today