Fiat Bearers of Light
The north wall of the Lincoln Memorial contains the words of the slain president’s Gettysburg Address; his Second Inaugural address is inscribed on the south wall. Lincoln was a man of few words. In neither address does he refer to himself (“I trust” is the closest he comes to the first person). But he certainly confronts the Civil War and the evil of slavery. In his Second Inaugural address, delivered on March 4, 1865, Lincoln said:
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword…so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’
Although the Civil War ended just five weeks after Lincoln uttered these words, slavery’s toxic legacy continues to challenge us. The events in Minneapolis attest to this legacy. We see it in the video of George Floyd’s murder. We see it in the understandable protests from San Diego to Brooklyn. And, sadly, we see it in the senseless violence on the streets of Minneapolis, Rochester, and Los Angeles.
As we seek to come to terms with what has happened, let’s commit ourselves to create a more just society for all. We must reaffirm our own sense of community by summoning what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. Our motto is Fiat Lux. Let there be light. Yes, indeed, let’s be the bearers of light during these challenging times.
Fiat bearers of light!