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.
You think we choose to be born?
I don’t suppose so.
Are we fitted to the times we’re born into?
Well, I don’t know about myself. You may be, sir. Fitted.
Lincoln to the second lieutenant:
What do you reckon?
Well, I’m an engineer. I reckon there’s machinery, but no one done the fitting.
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… That’s fairness.