“Non sibi,” as Chris Hughes ’02 reminded us at All-School Meeting (ASM), is plastered onto the face of our Academy. We see it everywhere: alumni bulletins, the Admissions Office, the Andover magazine and in Non-Sibi Weekend. We have yet, however, to see the “non sibi” spirit take root on our campus. Placing a day of school-wide mandatory community service on a pedestal as proof of a culture of selflessness evidences that “non sibi” is an exception to our everyday lives, not a norm.
The truth is, Andover students are not worthy of our school’s motto “non sibi.”
In fact, our culture is inherently “pro sibi.” We seldom break from our school work, our extracurriculars and our sports to stop and think, let alone to think of others. Even though many students find a couple of hours a week to participate in a community service program, such action does not vindicate the culture of self-obsession and self-absorption that dominates the Andover community. Should we abandon our passions and individual aspirations to become worthy of such a motto?
At Wednesday’s ASM, Hughes said that working for oneself, a common “pitfall” of many an Andover student, is not necessarily a selfish task. He suggested that working for yourself towards fulfillment can mean “aspiring to have an impact or it means making, and creating and inventing a better world.” Hughes guided the Andover community in serving the “non sibi” ideal, saying, “Hopefully you leave Andover understanding that as an individual that your social behavior relies on the body politic everyday to succeed and flourish. You shouldn’t help others to feel like you have checked a box, completed the charitable activity of the day. You have a sense of social responsibility just like being part of a network of human contingency in which we all need each other.”
As it stands, we recognize that our community does not reflect our motto, nor do we uphold it. We live in a world where pressure and individual concerns constantly demand our attention.
Yet, we love the ideal of “non sibi.” In order to become worthy of such a motto we have to start looking inwards, albeit counterintuitively, to find that important sense of social responsibility to which Hughes ascribes. We ask ourselves and the Andover community to renew our commitment to this mantra. As we see it, either the culture must change, or the motto itself.
This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXVII.