A Quote for Thursday


“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice” -MLK Jr.

I read that quote again today and for some reason it just struck me as particularly beautiful.  In some ways I think it is the perfect illustration of the philosophy that keeps anyone working not for money but in the oft-vain hope of doing good in this world.   Yes, today things aren’t just or fair or right but if we keep trying, maybe someday they might be.  (by the way, check this out for a good read on an alternative name for the non-profit sector)

Today I read an article in the NY Times about how the majority of kids in Southern schools are now poor and “minority.” The South has a majority of minorities, a majority poor.  It reminded me that over 100 years ago when all of the Irish and Italians came over to the US, they too were considered minorities.  Today, they are simply our great-grandparents.  On a census, they are “white” or “caucasion” not Irish or Italian.   They are “the majority”–minorities no more.

In another generation or two or three, will all of the children of Salvadorean, Mexican, or Nicaraguan immigrants still be minorities?  Or will they too be considered the new norm, the majority?

I hope they will, but I worry.

100 years ago maybe a father worked in a factory so that his children would never have to.  Today a mother cleans houses to pay for her kid’s college so that maybe one day they can one day live in a house as nice as the one she is cleaning now.

Somehow though I think it is harder than ever for that mother to give her kids all of the resources and advantages they need to succeed.  Is that fair?  Is it fair that the children of immigrants suffer for their parent’s immigration status?  Is it fair that black children are STILL some of the most disadvantaged in the country?

None of it is fair or just or right.

But there are people who try to make it right.  In the US, there are lots of Ashoka Fellows working out solutions.  They work in revolutionary ways, changing things in their own sphere of influence and gradually changing whole systems around them.

Most times the work hard-infuriatingly, hysterically, hard.   They hit road blocks, they get shut down, they run out of funding, they screw up royally sometimes.  Among the Fellows I’ve met from other countries I’ve heard stories of kidnapping, burned buildings, death threats and arrest warrants, just for trying to do the right thing, often in fantastically new and important ways.

These people risk their lives and their sanity to make a little difference.  But I think that’s how change happens, that’s how we get closer to justice, to morality, to true humanity.  People bending towards the good however they can.

So that’s all I wanted to say.  That I believe the world is a harsh, painfully cruel place but that maybe we are on a long slow track towards the good, the right, and the best of humanity.  Here’s to the kids, I say.  To the children of the poor and the privileged.  May we figure out how to build them a world in which they too can move a little closer to the good and the just.


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