Monday, January 19, 2015

Making the Arc of the Moral Universe Bend

On this day, the US celebrates the legacy of the Rev Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr once famously addressed the question of how long it would take to achieve some measure of real equality in the US (in the "Our God is Marching on Speech.")  He stated,

the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. 

In context, he clearly meant that such bending was possible when people devoted hard work and concerted action toward this end.  Rev King was hardly one to sit back and passively expect good things to happen. However, as pointed out in the Huffington Post entry by Christ Weigant, this sentence has often been taken out of context to justify passivity, and argue that we need not discomfit ourselves too much to achieve justice.

I have heard it used that way in the health care sphere, to justify collaboration with industry in areas where management's typical thrust to achieve quick revenue may lead to interests very different from those of medical professionals.  (We have posted frequently about conflicts of interest, and institutional conflicts of interest in health care, and how justification for such "collaboration" is often based on logical fallacies.)

So on this day, I urge you to think about how hard it may be to make health care more just, but how necessary it is to push on regardless.

1 comment:

Don Levit said...

Whether the arc bends toward justice or injustice is irrelevant.
What is relevant is what we do individually and collectively to bend the arc toward justice.
How one defines justice is tricky, but we know that justice, at least from a Biblical perspective, is important.
"Justice, justice shall you pursue."
Repeating justice twice displays the importance of this concept being implemented.
Don Levit