The Moral Arc of the Individual

This Daily Show interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates is worth a few minutes of your time.  Mr. Coates has a new book, Between the World and Me, that examines our country’s broken actions and attitudes toward race through his own experience.  In the interview, Jon Stewart describes Mr. Coates as being “More Malcolm [X] than Martin [Luther King, Jr.],” and his response is that he’s not so sure that the moral arc of the Universe bends toward justice.  Those of us at RBC who so much admire Dr. King’s famous words (famous paraphrase, actually) might react just a little bit against that.  But I want you to listen to what he says about it.  It’s easy to forget the stories of individuals whose lives were and are being shattered before the larger arc ever seems to get close to bending toward justice.  Even when you are someone opposed to injustice, you cannot get so swept away with the larger narrative that you forget the people. 

And I think on another level, what Ta-Nehisi Coates is pointing out, is that Dr. King did not mean that Justice would simply happen.  It will not happen without our participation.  Left alone, that arc will indeed bend, as Coates suggests, toward chaos.

Watch the interview here.


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