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Posted Four Years Ago Today

Max Stearns

FB reminded me this morning that I posted this four years ago today. The message rings as true today, if not truer. I have a heavy teaching load today, yet I will watch the inauguration. I would not miss it. I hope the new administration brings happiness, prosperity, and far far greater wisdom. I also am reminded of couple of songs, one originally a Christian hymnal (Morning has Broken), with a sufficiently universal theme that this Jewish law professor always counted it among his favorites. The other, by the Beatles, is so appropriate after this "Long and Lonely Winter."

Here is that four-year old post:

Unlike many, I feel compelled to watch what is unfolding. It is what I do. So while doing that, I thought I'd try to offer a somewhat more positive post.

When the price of winning is sacrificing one's moral compass, the right thing to do is not to win, but to negotiate a lower price going forward. Martin Luther King, Jr., famously stated: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Surely we all know that there have been despotic and unethical leaders throughout history, and all too often injustice has prevailed. And yet, King hypothesized that over history's long arc, the direction will be toward fair and ethical leaders and toward just institutions.


More just societies create more opportunities, more gains for more people, than unjust societies, ones that degrade, offend, and exclude. One of the many reasons why I am so offended by Donald Trump is that he views the world in zero sum, not positive sum, terms. When we open borders; welcome immigrants; do not exclude based on race, religion, or nationality; welcome those who challenge our dominant frames of reference with new paradigms; encourage taking risks within our competitive enterprise, rather than excluding competition by casting aspersions on "others," by balkanizing, and by casting blame, the world benefits and the arc bends toward justice. A more just and more fair society is also one in which people are better off, happier, more fulfilled. Blaming specific groups for our economic shortcomings is like eating a candy bar because we are hungry. The relief can only be temporary, never satisfying. Blaming others to benefit ourselves does not raise us up and cannot make us better. The mindset is antithetical to an arc toward justice. It cannot prevail other than temporarily.

I believe King was right because people will never sacrifice their hope for a truly better society, one that benefits more and more people and that creates opportunities for everyone, even knowing that such a society carries real risks for us as individuals. Some will win, and some will lose, but if the rules are fair, open, and inclusive, these outcomes need never be permanent. A just society must not sacrifice its core values; when it does, it must fight hard to have them restored. There is too much to gain. We will negotiate a better price, and inspired by King, find a way to recalibrate the arc while maintaining the values we hold dear.


Be safe, be well, and let us all hope and pray that today brings with it a better tomorrow.

I welcome your comments.

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