I write this on the fifth day of January in the year of our Lord 2007. Here in Vermont we’ve just come through the most snowless and warmest December in our history. The lakes are wide open, and the radio just forecast sixty degrees and pouring rain for tomorrow.
Norman Thomas, the great democratic socialist leader of the twentieth century who ran six times for president, used to say, “There are no lost causes, only causes not yet won.” Which has always struck me as a useful credo. And indeed, Thomas saw most of the outlandish ideas of his youth (Social Security, the eight-hour day, the five-day week) eventually enshrined not only in law but in conventional wisdom as obvious common sense. As Martin Luther King often observed, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” Sometimes, too, King would quote James Russell Lowell’s “Once to Every Man and Nation”:
Truth forever on the scaffold
Wrong forever on the throne
Yet that scaffold sways the future
And behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own.