Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
That thought is the hope of every generation – that right now things might be a mess, but one day we as a society will get things right.
It’s wildly ambitious. Perhaps one might even say naive or unrealistic given how selfish and self-serving people can be.
Any species which can justify the evil of slavery and its modern equivalent human trafficking to itself can seemingly justify anything: colonialism over First Nations peoples, tribal genocide in Rwanda, or the mass extermination of innocent peoples, mainly Jews, in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
And those are just some horrible examples drawn from the last century alone.
However, Martin Luther King Jr.’s statement still has resonance, and with it comes a sense of optimism and an exhortation to this and the coming generations to make of this messy planet a better world for all who are to come.
It was with that sense of optimism that hundreds of people from across the area of all races and creeds came together in front of Lethbridge city hall last week to speak out against ongoing systemic racism and injustice in southern Alberta.
Will this gathering change the way Indigenous peoples, particularly, are treated in this province tomorrow? Sadly not.
We are still at the bottom of the rising arc on that one.
Will suddenly visible minorities in the area have equal access to opportunities or face less underlying racism as they move through their day in the short term? Likely not.
What the gathering showed is a willingness to live together. A desire to unify our region in fairness for everyone.
It was a statement of what we would like to be, and not necessarily about what we have achieved to date. It was an acknowledgement that there is more work yet to do.
Or as one protester named Phobe Bird who attended the demonstration put it:
“Look at us,” she said motioning toward the crowd all around. “We are all here. We are all here for the same thing, equality. We are all here for justice. This is how it should be. We are all brothers and sisters here. What I hope is my kids don’t have to come out and do this. I am teaching them we are all the same. We are all people with feelings. We all have a story. We all bleed red.”