Print Friendly, PDF & Email

[Essay Framework] The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards Justice


Download Essay Framework here


Note: This is a mere outline to get you to start thinking about the topic. This is not a synopsis or a model essay. Just brainstorming. We’re eager to read your insightful essays! Please post them in the comments. 


  • You may start the essay with an anecdote, poem, or a riveting story that illustrates the topic clearly.(If you’re writing a story -please try to write an original story that evokes the reader’s interest.)
  • Mention how the given quote is attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr. and explain the contextin which it was said. He used it many times, including during the march from Selma in 1965. He was answering the question: How long will it take to see social justice?

Note: It is also said to be King’s paraphrasing of a portion of a sermon delivered in 1853 by the abolitionist minister Theodore Parker.

I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.”

  • Define & elaborate upon your idea of the topic– what is the deeper meaning behind it? Explore different perspectives- there is no right or wrong dimension- let your imagination and creativity take over!
  • Keywords: Moral, Justice
  • What is the topic trying to convey?
    • What is a “moral universe” as per your thinking?
    • Does the arc of the moral universe automatically bend towards “Justice”?
    • Is it pre-ordained? Destiny? Fate? Karma?
    • Or does it require “Active” efforts by humanity? People’s proactive participation?
    • What is the meaning of “Justice”? Is it objective or subjective?
    • Different Types of Justice:
      • Social Justice
      • Economic Justice
      • Legal Justice
      • Political Justice
      • Climate Justice
      • Gender Justice

And many more…

Give examples of the above; can you relate them to a few articles/Schedules from our constitution or contemporary movements? Think!

  • Does it talk about Change: Societal change, behavioral change, change in mindsets, processes, policies, etc.? Is change a slow, winding process? Does it eventually happen? How can we play an active role in ushering in positive changes that make the arc bend toward justice?
  • Explore various dimensions in the succeeding paragraphs: History/Politics/Personalities, Cultural domain, Environment, Education, Health, Society, Infrastructure/Business, Good governance, and best practices. International Relations, Technology, etc. Talk about the injustice that has/had prevailed; delve into the actions taken to usher in justice; the debilitating effects of keeping silent or being mere spectators in such scenarios. Contrast and compare with examples to substantiate.
  • Examples you may consider:
    • Anti-Slavery movement, Civil Rights Movement
    • Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address: “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
    • India’s Independence movement which saw the proactive participation of people to ensure justice
    • Reformation movements during the Indian Independence movement: Abolition of Sati, widow remarriage, etc- all these changes were brought about by People who put in efforts to ensure justice.
    • Racial injustice, homophobia, ageism, wealth inequalities, corruption, etc- think of all the injustices in the world and use them as examples. Delve deep into the root cause, the solutions, and how proactive participation by people is a catalyst to bringing about positive change.
  • Ethical dimension: Apply your learnings from GS-4 with respect to this topic. Can you think of theories/principles put forward by various thinkers?


Please let your creativity flow and explore other dimensions.

  • Conclusion: End the essay on a positive, balanced & holistic note.
  • Quotes:
    • “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
      Martin Luther King Jr.
    • “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
      Desmond Tutu
    • “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
      Benjamin Franklin
    • “Environmental injustice is a tangible, intolerable example of an exhibited moral laxity and minimal concern for healthy standards by corporations and political structures based on the race, ethnicity, and class of those being impacted.”
      Bernice King
    • “Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security, and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”
      — Ban Ki-moon