Last June, Al Gore wrote an article in Rolling Stone titled "The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate" in which he argued that people around the world are finally starting to take the actions necessary to save our planet. Gore reminded us of three great quotations. The first was from Winston Churchill in 1936 as war was imminent:
"Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have entered upon a period of danger. . . . The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays is coming to its close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences. . . . We cannot avoid this period; we are in it now."
The second was from the American poet, Wallace Shawn:
"After the final 'no' there comes a 'yes'/And on that 'yes' the future world depends."
As Gore reminds us, "there were many no's before the emergence of a global consensus to abolish chattel slavery, before the consensus that women must have the right to vote, before the fever of the nuclear arms race was broken, before the quickening global recognition of gay and lesbian equality, and indeed before every forward advance toward social progress."
The final quote was from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
"How long? Not long. Because no lie can live forever. . . . How long? Not long. Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Remember these quotes the next time someone tells you that we can't pass commonsense legislation to prevent gun violence, or to reform our immigration system, or to reduce the inequality of income and assets. Every time people have said "no, it can never happen," it does. History cannot be defeated: it can only be delayed.