top of page
  • Reverend James Squire

Lux et Veritas

Lux et Veritas is the motto of Yale University. It means light and truth. I was struck in the May/June issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine, how both light and truth were mentioned in vastly different ways in this current issue.

LIGHT In the previous issue, Yale writers explored the history of slavery that assisted the university in its initial funding. It cited examples such as “how thousands of Caribbean slaves cut the cane that made the rum that provided the fortunes of the Yankees that financed the building the university. Greed and theft originally made the university possible.” The writer of the Letter to the Editor in response to the previous issue, Donald H. Werner, Yale ’55, said that the writers of the piece that he referenced went on to say that they did not give their age but that he presumed that “they were young which made his point that Yale must be teaching that history now and will probably be teaching the same in the future.” He made his disapproval of that previous edition of the magazine known.

He closed his letter with the following: “Yale seems to be viewing our nation’s variegated history through a single, DARK lens. Historically, Yale has always come down on the side of LIGHT.”

I share this letter because Mr. Werner’s letter reflects why Critical Race Theory has been so controversial in our nation. The articles on racism and Yale were written with one question in mind to address. How did Yale benefit from slavery and racism? That was the assignment. The magazine writers weren’t asked for a broad-based history of Yale or our nation where other contributions of stakeholders would have been mentioned.

This is, in my view, an example of why Critical Race Theory which deals specifically with racism and slavery is so misunderstood. The writer of CRT was specifically asked to talk about racism and slavery not the whole enchilada of American history. Like the previous issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine, its goal was very specific and academic in nature. Mr. Werner didn’t ask the purpose of the issue. Tucker Carlson and others never think to do that either. They quickly focus on the word DARK and not the word LIGHT to enlighten others about how other groups such as immigrants made significant contribution to who and what we are today. There are also those who were early shapers of our country. Their accusation is that you left the real shapers of our history out.

TRUTH Later on in the same edition, Davide Tarr, ‘Yale ’67 and ’71 MDiv in referencing the same article gave a perfect counter to Mr. Werner. I say that, of course, because it is my view. Werner wrote in his letter to the editor the following: “By way of contrast, many of us believe that American exceptionalism is rooted in candor that can tolerate the whole truth and can self-correct as a result. I am proud that Yale is part of that tradition.” Did you just hear me say, AMEN! BROTHER!

America is currently dealing with a pervasive lying issue. Lying has been around for a long time but Donald Trump turned it into an art form. I hope that people in his rank and file noticed that he said the same thing about the Georgia race for governor that he did when telling the Big Lie about his failure to be reelected. Kemp defeated Perdue after a landslide victory. Perdue was Trump’s pick. He is saying the same thing again even as he took credit for earlier victories of people that he backed. Someone at those rallies has hopefully learned that lightening doesn’t strike twice in the same location unless you are Trump.

I am reminded of the line in that classic movie, A Few Brave Men, spoken by Jack Nicholson in the role of Colonel Jessep, “You can’t handle the truth!” as he addresses Tom Cruise’s character. What a perfect theme for our current ethical dilemma in politics. It does describe our current age.

Lux et Vertitas is a Latin phrase that could be a lens through which to look at our lives, personally in the private domain and publicly in the political nature of the public domain.

We walk in the light as a child of God and seek his truth in all that we do.

What a great banner that would be that could fly over our political landscape. “You can’t handle the truth.” It would certainly be a great motto for the January 6 Commission.

Not enough people notice the Hebrew writing in the book that is on the Yale Seal. According to Dan Oren in the Yale Alumni Magazine March 2001,” Rabbi Carigal and Yale president, the Reverend Edward Stiles had a close relationship in 1773. They met together 28 times. The Hebrew words on the seal, Urim and Thummim, found in Leviticus are meant to indicate that the motto itself is based in the Bible. The Hebrew words “represented the oracle will of God.” The New England Puritans, who shaped Yale, thought that will to be Jesus.” It could have been the beginning of the Interfaith Movement in our nation.

Stiles gave his commencement address in in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic as well as, I assume, the king’s English.

One of the golden rules in education is, “If you are looking for a particular answer as your expectation, make sure that you ask the right question.”

13 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page