What does “advance the human condition” mean? Read our fifth installment of Senior Speaks, Simona Stancov’s article “Overused for a Reason” to find out!
At this point in our IMSA careers, my fellow seniors and I must have heard the phrase “advance the human condition” hundreds of times. Speakers at every convocation ceremony, awards banquet, and lecture use it in some way or another. Teachers bring it up in class, and admissions counselors never fail to mention it during open houses. We see these words on pamphlets, plaques, and newsletters, in promotional videos and posts on IMSA’s Facebook page. And after three years, I’m afraid we’ve forgotten what they actually mean.
Nowadays, it seems that students don’t take “advance the human condition” seriously. I hear our mission statement mocked in hallways and dorms, even in other languages. It is accompanied by sarcasm and eye rolls, as if it is not an actual goal, as if it is something administration promotes simply to convince legislators that this school is worth funding. Even when someone uses the phrase seriously, the response he/she receives from peers is far from approving. But why do we, the people who are supposed to be living IMSA’s mission statement, write it off?
Perhaps we are inclined to think that overusing something deprives it of its meaning, its power. Maybe we don’t like dealing with the stress of changing the world when we have homework and tests and extracurricular responsibilities hanging over our heads. It is quite possible that we, students known for our procrastination, don’t find it relevant in the present. Yeah, yeah. Advance the human condition. I’ll get to that someday. Maybe when I’m a doctor or engineer.
But what if “advance the human condition” is overused for a reason?
If you know me, you know my response.
Advancing the human condition isn’t something we should wait to do in the future or on special occasions. It isn’t just about improving irrigation in developing countries, preventing child trafficking, and implementing solutions for global poverty. It is a task, it is a challenge, that should take precedence in our daily lives.
Advancing the human condition is about respect. It is about kindness and caring. It is about greeting teachers in the morning and making (not taking, but making) time to learn about other people’s lives and stories. It is about picking up litter in the park and respecting the lines that form during Friday Fests. It is about learning to understand instead of criticize, of highlighting the good in every person and situation instead of judging them. It is about taking advantage of disagreement to improve communication and the spread of ideas. It is about encouraging appreciation and fighting apathy. It is about leaving a legacy that we can be proud of.
In short, IMSA’s mission statement applies to each and every one of us each and every day. The world is big, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss the value of a few kind words or small actions. After all, the human condition is a collective of individual conditions, and if we want to improve it, we should start by turning to one another.
Fellow seniors, as you go off to college, I hope you take this school’s mission statement with you. Remember the words, but more importantly, remember the sentiment behind them. Embrace them. Be proud of them. Act on them.
Juniors and sophomores, I won’t lie to you. You have a busy year waiting just around the corner. In the craziness of papers, projects, standardized testing, and college applications, I hope you don’t forget to care for one another. What makes IMSA is its people, not its statistics or its rules or its transcripts. Appreciate all that this community is now, dream of all it can be, and make that dream into reality.
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