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Letters: The moral universe feels like it’s adrift

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25.09.2021

A friend once told me that he no longer believes the “arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice.” He was referencing the famous Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. quote. I don’t fret over my own cynicism, but the somber view from my usually hopeful friend was unsettling. I felt the same after reading Clarence Page’s Sept. 12 column (“What have we learned about ourselves since 9/11? Not enough.”).

Page, recalling the aftermath of both 9/11 and the Jan. 6 insurrection, asks, “Do we Americans now need to have the unifying force of a deadly terrorist enemy to bring our elected representatives together across party lines?” My friend, a retired school psychologist, reminds me that we’re different people at age 40 than we are at 20. The same principle seems to apply to whole societies.

The bench mark for comedy, for example, includes insults and personal attacks that would have been considered poor taste in 2001. Today, we laugh, but bitterness lurks everywhere, not just in comedy. Reason once vied for consideration in policy talk — now, it’s barely an option. Expediency rules, setting our “moral universe” adrift in affairs foreign and domestic. Justice is reduced to an afterthought. Unity is a faint memory.

Page concludes, “The differences that pull us apart are outnumbered by the unifying values that we share in common.” Reason requires me to consider that Page might be right.

— Jim Newton, Itasca

Recent 9/11 memorials called to mind the heroism of so many who put their own lives at mortal risk by entering the burning towers and the Pentagon, and disarming the........

© Chicago Tribune


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