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Vishaan Chakrabarti: What’s the light at the end of our tunnel?

sather gate's fiat lux logo reflected in a puddle
In an On My Mind column, Vishaan Chakrabarti, dean of the College of Environmental Design, wonders “what the light at the end of the tunnel might truly symbolize for both the world and the home we call Berkeley.” (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)
sather gate's fiat lux logo reflected in a puddle

In an On My Mind column, Vishaan Chakrabarti, dean of the College of Environmental Design, wonders “what the light at the end of the tunnel might truly symbolize for both the world and the home we call Berkeley.” (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)

Fiat Lux, or “Let there be light.” It is our motto here at Berkeley, and yet, I can’t help but consider its relationship to the most famous metaphor of our moment: There is light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel, of course, is this pandemic and its associated tragedies. But what, in this metaphor, is the light? In terms of medicine and public health, the light at the tunnel’s end is the moment when the world is vaccinated and we reach global herd immunity. The time when this particular suffering subsides. For some, this light may mean returning to “normal.”

‘On My Mind’

‘On My Mind’ is a space for senior campus leaders to communicate with the Berkeley community.

But given the grave inequities this crisis has revealed, not to mention the climate crisis it foreshadows, we should not seek to go backward. Instead, let’s focus on what the light at the end of the tunnel might truly symbolize for both the world and the home we call Berkeley. The moment when we can come together again on our beautiful campus, when we can revel in the daily and serendipitous contact for which we all so dearly long. In so doing, we can tackle the world’s problems together. Forging a global society requires our core values here at Berkeley — equity, ecology and excellence. That is the true light at the end of the tunnel. Fiat Lux!