By: Ned Holstein, MD, MS
Founder, Chair of the Board and Acting Executive Director
Martin Luther King, whose birthday we celebrate today, was a true hero of the twentieth century. He devoted his life to correcting an enormous injustice. Like George Washington during the American Revolution, he knew his life was on the line. In fact, in King’s case, it is clear that during the last few years of his life, he knew for a fact that he would be assassinated sooner or later.
Yet he persisted.
We too can win our struggle to “right an unbearable wrong.” To do so, we must avoid two errors, each the opposite of the other.
First, when King claimed that the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice, he did not intend to imply that good things are predestined to occur. The good guys do not automatically win. Justice does not always prevail. Bad things happen — all the time.
Instead, the full context of his sermon makes it clear that it requires our effort and sacrifice to bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice. It will not be done for us, and we cannot sit back and do nothing.
The opposite error is to succumb to despair, to believe that the task is so hard that we cannot possibly do it. Deuteronomy 30:13-14 expresses this error with eloquence: “Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’14“But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.”
As we enter into 2018, let us remember that we must act, each of us, to right the wrongs of family law. The arc of the moral universe will not bend by itself, automatically. Yet extreme sacrifice is not required of us, to give up our lives, or our fortune (what is left of it), or to be imprisoned, nor to go “beyond the sea” for it. It is as close to you as your breath. It is easily within our power working together. All that is needed is to occasionally attend a meeting, or visit a legislator, or write a letter, or write a check to National Parents Organization.
Let us take our inspiration from Dr. King today, while realizing that we are not called upon to sacrifice so dearly as he was.
And much less is required of us