Three ways of looking at an arc of history

longer-arc-of-history

Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said, “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.” We can take this to be the standard liberal-progressive way of looking at the arc of history.

There are two other possible variations:

  • that of the reactionary right: “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward vengeance.”

  • that of the revolutionary left: “The arc of history is long and it’s going to keep getting longer unless we put a stop to it.”

8 thoughts on “Three ways of looking at an arc of history

  1. I appreciate the cleverness of this post and the insights of your posts in general. For what it’s worth (apologies if this isn’t helpful), following Theodore Parker, MLK actually said, “The arc of the *moral universe* is long, but it bends towards justice” (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129609461). I see the version about “history” fairly frequently, but to me there’s an inevitability in that misquote not present in the original King version–which I (perhaps incorrectly) take to mean that if we choose morality (love/compassion/solidarity), then we will move toward justice. The alternative is not to follow the arc of the moral universe, and instead head toward hate, division, and inequality.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s