Splendid Isolationism

Although Phillips Academy students often speak out against the notorious “Andover bubble” even as they retreat into it, the growing political activism of the student body calls into question the notion of the student paralyzed by his own elitism. The recent spate of activism both on and off campus proves that students are beginning to reject such a theory as a means of justifying apathy and instead to use greater global awareness to break away from the stereotype of a blasé Andoverian. By reinforcing the “Andover bubble” as an excuse for political and social apathy, students inadvertently embrace the luxury of indifference. We pull a shade over our own eyes, blinding ourselves in our own “splendid isolationism” in order to escape the horror of responsibility. Indeed, we distance ourselves from world issues because on Andover Hill, as Mrs. Sykes wrote in her “Open Letter to the Andover Community,” we feel “insulated from the perilous tensions playing out on the world stage.” This idealistic separatism convinces the community that things will sort themselves out and that our only action should be to continue with our everyday lives. However, as crisis after crisis unfolds, apathy becomes a luxury not even the privileged few can afford. The Andover community deserves praise for increasingly replacing the luxury of indifference with the necessity of involvement, thereby shedding the “Andover bubble” as an excuse for inaction. After President Bush ordered military attack on Afghanistan in October 2001, members of the Andover community formed the Sweet Honey Society, which has held a forum about Iraq, as well as a daily vigil around the flagpole at noon, in an attempt to express hope for peace in the Middle East. This past month, the Young Republicans Club began to hold vigils at the Memorial Bell Tower as a means of supporting the American troops in Iraq and acknowledging the necessity of removing Saddam Hussein from power. Students further weakened the prevalent “bubble” theory by traveling beyond campus boundaries to voice their opinions. A PA student organized a protest against fur in downtown Andover last Saturday. Others journeyed to New York City over President’s Day Weekend to join an anti-war protest, one of many occurring around the world. In increasingly rejecting apathy, students also rid themselves of any excuse for indifference. The Andover community has not only shown its ability to handle the responsibility of action, but also displayed its clear retreat from elitism. Now, more than ever, students are called to think beyond the playing fields of Siberia, to see above the Bell Tower, and to act outside of our comfortable “bubble.” The recent outburst of activism amongst members of the community serves as a reminder not only of issues beyond self-interest, but also of the utter fallacy of our own “splendid isolationism.” — J.W.