A self-evident truth

 In the 2012 movie about the passage of the 13th amendment, there is a scene where Lincoln is sitting alone with two young officers, late at night in the war room, awaiting news from the fighting in Wilmington.

   In this conversation, he reveals a self-evident truth. And the meaning of justice.

Lincoln:

You think we choose to be born?

Lieutenant:

I don’t suppose so.

Lincoln:

Are we fitted to the times we’re born into?

Lieutenant:

Well, I don’t know about myself. You may be, sir. Fitted.

Lincoln to the second lieutenant:

What do you reckon?

Lieutenant 2:

Well, I’m an engineer. I reckon there’s machinery, but no one done the fitting.

Lincoln

Then, you must know Euclid’s axioms and common notions. I read Euclid in an old book I borrowed….And Euclid’s first common notion was this:

Things which are equal to the same thing, are equal to each other,

A rule of mathematical reasoning.

It’s true because it works.

Always done and always will do.

Euclid says this is self evident. You see? There it is in that 2000-year-old book of mechanical law.

It is a self-evident truth that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.

We begin with equality.

That’s the origin, isn’t it?

That’s balance.

That’s… That’s fairness.

That’s justice.


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