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Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
The 53 or so years since Dr. King’s assassination has taught us one more thing. The arc of the moral universe only bends toward justice under the weight of many people, sometimes many generations of people, pulling it in that direction.
Justice is never a solitary act.
It is always a melange of defenders and oppressors, compassion and hate, hope and fear, wisdom and willful ignorance. In justice or the absence of it, we are never alone. If we act solely for ourselves, how can justice exist much less the arc of the universe bend toward it?
Alan Watts once said that “If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet you’ll come to understand that you are connected to everything.” In that same vein, Martin Luther King also said that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
This interconnectedness makes alliances not only crucial to Justice writ large, it is crucial to our own self interest. Ignoring injustices to others is neglecting our own injury. It injures our life and energy to accept injustice to anyone.
Together we are stronger, perhaps strong enough to tug the arc of the moral universe a little closer to Justice.
Wherever you are, however hopeless it feels, you are connected to the universe. The universe is a pretty big place, so rest assured there is someone else in it who believes as you do and accepts and celebrates the person you are deep down where it matters. That connectedness, even in times when you can’t sense it for yourself, will bring all of our weight to bear in bending King’s arc.
Grab onto the arc, hold on to the notion of connection and know there are others hanging on right there beside you.
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