“The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long but it Bends Toward Justice.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. – 1964 – Commencement at Wesleyan University
Martin Luther King Jr’s Message
Martin Luther King, Jr was a central figure in the Civil Rights movement during the 1960’s. His message of equality through peaceful means stands the test of time. He was a true visionary that understood how valuable history is. He was insightful and visionary. This quote embodies this like no other.
It is not surprising Dr. King so eloquently adopted words spoken by another visionary more than 100 years after the fact and confirms he was no slouch in studying and applying historical references. Here is where he found the quote:
“Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, and my eye reaches but little ways.I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”
Theodore Parker – 1857.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Progress
It is profound that 100 years passed and the struggle for equality still existed. However, 155 years later one can see the progress made and promoted through words clearly. Obviously, the longer quote is talking about the abolishment slavery. Like many other countries the United States of America is filled with historical blunders or injustices but it also shows how adaptable the country is in progressive causes and makes Martian Luther King’s and Theodore Parker’s words even more remarkable.
Never Give Up
The optimism displayed by King during this great and dark period in American history was impressive. He knew people would do the right thing and used history to support this opinion. And he was right. At a time where one could reasonably think and did use violence to overcome injustices King made clear how progress was inevitable.
This was important to promoting his non-violent goals. Further, Kings use of history to advance his message just shows his understanding and intelligence. He did not just say things; he thought about them and found historical references to support what he was saying.
This was critical as someone of less character and reasoning would come nowhere close to the success King’s message has. He had a dream and the ability to use words and knowledge to make it happen, even in death.