“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
In 1871, Unitarian minister Theodore Parker first spoke these words in opposition to slavery here in America.
In 1958 Dr Martin Luther King Jr. repeated them to a nation still fighting for equality for all its people.
In this day of uncertainty and grief, these words desperately need to be repeated again, though not as solace for weary spectators—but as battle cry for warriors.
We who occupy this space and time need to understand that the arc of the universe does not bend without us. It never has. It never will.
Humanity is the irresistible force shaping the crescent we stand upon together; every single life and every infinitesimal, seemingly unimportant decision adjusts its path in ways we can’t always perceive. With each decision, the curvature changes ever so slightly. It is changing in the seconds it takes me to type these words, and you to read them. Every single moment is a movement, one way or the other.
Friends, this means that we are the arc benders.
We are not passive victims of the difficult times in which we live, we are powerful participants in them; mighty co-authors of the story we find ourselves in, and together we can twist the plot. We can write something redemptive to mark this day on the planet.
With each beat of our bleeding hearts and every breath passing through our scorched lungs; as we speak and struggle, pushback and pray, resist and engage—the universe bows a bit more. With each act of love, each word of truth, each brave step, justice comes a little closer.
Yes, the arc of the moral universe is long, and we may not see all the movement we wish to see while we are here, but make no mistake—it will bend far less severely and far more slowly if we simply wait for it to do so.
And while we are waiting, others may decide that we are bending too quickly toward equality and diversity, and they may move in opposition, arching us away from the progress of our forebears. And if we are not diligent and relentless and steadfast with these moments, we risk leaving those who come after us, a world that is veering off course.
This is why we keep going now. It is why be brave the difficult conversations and the exhausting days and the sleepless nights. It’s why we don’t sit in the comfort of our privilege, and why we face this day with urgency: because people of love will hasten the bending if they choose to.
And I choose to.
I want to be an arc bender.
I want to live leaned toward justice.
I want my choices in the small and the grand to contribute to the holy momentum of the planet.
I want my presence here to yield more compassion, more goodness, more decency than when I arrived.
I want my abundance and privilege to be spent on behalf of those who have less of such things.
I want to spend the remaining of my days shoulder to shoulder with other passionate, resolute arc benders, deliberately altering the curvature of the universe toward justice, by the sweat of our brows and the defiance of a love that will not cease.
We don’t wait for the Universe to bend, my friends.
We move together—and we bend it.
Blessed are the arc benders.