Legacy: You Are Not Your Instagram
In the fall of 1940 a young woman with an earnest desire for Adventist education and a spark that would ignite an impressive career stepped foot onto the campus of Emmanuel Missionary College, the school that would eventually be renamed Andrews University. This young woman, my grandmother, was the first person in her family to attend college and earn a degree. A pioneer in her own right, she came from a shepherd-turned-shoemaker father. He was a man who stepped through the gates of Ellis Island to contribute to one of the greatest movements of all time known as the American dream. Legacy: The principle that the achievements of a person or group can continue to influence those who follow in their footsteps.
This summer, during my annual pilgrimage to Los Angeles, a piece of graffiti caught my attention. Usually I don’t receive my philosophical guidance or life coaching from barely legible vandalism, but this time I made an exception. On a retaining wall of an elementary school playground was painted the silhouette of a man, shoulders slouched and head bowed over a phone he was holding. In front of him, written in huge black lettering, was the impactful phrase “YOU ARE NOT YOUR INSTAGRAM.” Just an hour prior I had shared a picture of myself crouched by one of the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with my several hundred Instagram followers. I tried to make sense of why I would post this snapshot with the new perspective gained from the briefly viewed street art. Retrospectively, I wanted people to think that selfie was who I was, that I was well traveled, open to the arts, fun and spontaneous, a little adventurous and possessing an eye for aesthetics in photography. In actuality, that snapshot was a thinly veiled illusion. I am no star. I have no place on a walk of fame. Honestly I don’t even care much for Hollywood.
This academic year is one clothed in new beginings. This is The Student Movement’s 101st year in publication and the start of a new century of excellence. This year we welcome our new president, Dr. Luxton, the first female president of this university that has welcomed brilliant women for generations. There are even some new beginnings for the Student Movement this year like an unprecedented potential to reach more readers since its inception in 1916. It is undeniable that any of these new beginnings could be possible without the legacies of both our institution and of each of our students. In the eyes of history, Instagram pictures and Facebook posts are not the measure by which we will be remembered positively, but rather by the work and real contributions we add to our community.
Whether you like it or not, you are someone’s legacy. We must strive to graciously accept the benefactions of those who walked these halls before us and to leave those halls a little brighter than when we entered.
I, along with the rest of our staff, welcome you to the new century of The Student Movement.