Bending toward Justice

Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God. And without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. So we must help time and realize that the time is always ripe to do right…

We’re going to win our freedom because both the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of the almighty God are embodied in our echoing demands. And so, however dark it is, however deep the angry feelings are, and however violent explosions are, I can still sing “We Shall Overcome.”

We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

–Martin Luther King, Jr. Delivered at the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., on 31 March 1968. Congressional Record, 9 April 1968.

I am pausing on this rainy night to take in the language of justice spoken with the elegance and spirit of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is historic, not just for the group of people sometimes defined as those who live together in same sex relationships. Today is historic for people everywhere, who love in relationship to each other and fight a fight for equality, respect, and justice. On this day, the Supreme Court of the United States once again reaffirmed that legal rights cannot be restricted to one privileged group over another. This ruling, which struck down the so-called “defense of marriage act” asserts that limiting legal rights to apply only to one group not only privileges that group, but actually undermines the very standard of equality which we believe underscores a just society.

I pause today not only because marriage equality is an issue I value…for my friends, my family, my beloved companions on this earth…but because there is a deep urge within today’s ruling to refocus our attention on justice as a moral imperative. Justice speaks in a voice that beckons us to know that our differences reflect the miracle of human diversity, which gives meaning to our days and helps us continue to know and to grow and to thrive as a species because of the very important fact that we are not all alike. The “primitive forces of social stagnation” keep human beings from growth. Indeed, the very survival of the human race depends upon our diversity, our intermingling and co-existence with each other, and our ability to adapt by being ever-changing beings. Humanity itself thrives on our ability to transform, to grow, and to accommodate differences in the system. This is a divine gift, part of the unfolding story of God’s love for humanity.

Justice emanates from the core of the divine where it meets each human soul, creating a spectrum of individuality, diversity, and connection with each other that can advance the human condition even over the course of our own lifetime. We need only see beyond ourselves to experience the deep love God has for humanity reflected in the beauty of human diversity. When we see this with our eyes open, we will be compelled to work for justice and the time will always be ripe to do right.

Today, I see justice waving in flags that are both red, white, and blue…and rainbow…in their hues. I hear it in the chimes ringing at our National Cathedral, I see it in the status updates of people I love, the toasts of champagne, the calls of “I love you” and congratulations that abound. I also feel it in renewed calmness and unwarranted optimism for the future, and in the detailed legal language that distills and explains justice. I will explain today’s further embrace of justice to my child, perhaps in simpler terms than the legal proceedings, but just as real. And we will all…all of humanity…live and experience life more richly because we have taken a deeper stride into the experience of justice on this day.

About harasprice

Professor of Social Work and Priest in The Episcopal Church, parent, teacher, learner, writer, advocate, and grateful traveller along this journey through life
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