Husted ’13: Don’t change the motto
I don’t think the motto “In Deo Speramus” should be changed. However, I concede the following. Mottos should do an adequate job of summarizing the intentions of a group. “In Deo Speramus” does a seemingly poor job at this. We are here to learn, and our school has no formal religious mission. In fact, Brown was the first school in the United States to accept students without regard to religious beliefs.
“In Deo Speramus” combines years of tradition with words of inspiration for every Brunonian. Furthermore, the motto has little at all to do with religion and is in fact a powerful message that applies directly to our education here.
While Brown students are prone to challenge the status quo, we shouldn’t fail to recognize the value of tradition in maintaining the prestige of our University and connecting current students to past generations of Brunonians. Only if a tradition is marred by intense controversy should it be discarded so glibly.
Though the motto presumably pays homage to our Baptist roots, it is open to a wide range of interpretations. It is not “in Christ we hope,” or “in Mohammed we pray,” or even “in God we pray.” These would be singular and also imperative. They would require some active observance by the member of the institution or some adherence to a specific religion. But Brown obviously doesn’t demand religious loyalty of any kind. So what is the point of our motto?
Our motto is meant to inspire us and create a sense of community among past and present Brunonians. If we interpret God in a transcendental way, as a greater good, something greater than ourselves, then it makes sense that we should hope in God. Otherwise, what is our purpose at this institution? Hoping in anything else seems petty in comparison. If we see Brown as a corporation to give us our diplomas so we can get jobs, then it would be fair to hope in jobs. If we see Brown as a fun time for a few years before entering the “real world” then it would be fair to hope in parties. Hoping in anything good short of the ultimate good, God, is too small an ambition for us.
Brown is, and should remain, more than this. Our learning should be pursued for the sake of learning alone, with open hearts and minds. We hope that the world will be made better because of it, thus we join thousands of other Brown grads in saying that it is surely “In Deo Speramus.”
Lucas Husted ’13 hopes in God every day.