I am going to use this first post to brainstorm two questions: 1) why write a blog? and 2) what should I blog about?
Possible reasons for me to blog: 1) identify potential topics for more extensive research/writing/publications 2) clarify my thoughts on those topics (good ideas don’t amount to much unless they can be expressed in writing), and 3) get feedback from others about whether the idea is worth exploring further or not.
Potential topics are associated with the following quote:
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
This quote is from Martin Luther King who was paraphrasing the famous Unitarian Minister and abolitionist Theodore Parker. I hope Martin Luther King and Theodore Parker were correct. I think there is much evidence over the course of history to support their proposition (e.g., after much sturm and drang slavery was eventually abolished, the decline of Jim Crow and increasing civil rights for African Americans, Women getting the right to vote & inequality between genders decreasing over time (at least in some cultures), the rise of a broad middle class in the USA for much of the 20th century, increasing civil rights for LGBTQ…persons over the past 40 years, and 100s of other advances around the USA and world).
So while there is much empirical evidence to support the assumption that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice there are two important caveats to this proposition: 1) The moral arc of the universe does not bend towards justice on its own, it typically takes social movements involving thousands (if not millions) of people working together and many taking enormous risks to bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice. While it takes a mass movement to create change, successful movements typically start with a small group of people coming together; discussing goals, strategy, and tactics; deciding to take a stand; and start taking action (e.g., Seneca Falls). 2) There is currently plenty of empirical evidence that the moral arc of the universe is either bending away from justice, not bending in any direction, or is splitting apart with different strands bending in different directions (some toward justice, some away from justice).
In my opinion the following trends support this second proposition: the dramatic increase in income & wealth inequality in the USA over the past 30 years; what has been essentially a “jobless” economic recovery over the past 3 years; a dramatic rise in the cost of College and increasing levels of student debt; the apparent inability of the world (and especially the USA) to acknowledge the scientific evidence surrounding climate change begin changing our behavior to avoid the cataclysmic ramifications of remaining on the current path . There is much more empirical evidence that the moral arc of the universe is not bending towards justice, but I will just mention the above topics for now.
Being a professor of community oriented social work, my job is to search the world for examples of organizations and social movements that are struggling to bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice. My job is to try to identify, highlight, research, document, and hopefully contribute in some small way to these movements. Since I am trained as a social scientist my job is try to apply the scientific method to movements, campaigns & organizations, with several goals: measuring processes and outcomes, eliminating rival hypotheses, and hopefully providing empirical evidence for what works and doesn’t work in terms of bending the moral arc of the universe towards justice.