Our founding fathers offered future American citizens an interesting piece of advice in the Latin phrase on the Seal of the United States of America: “E Pluribus Unum,” meaning, “one from many.”
The motto was originally intended to indicate that the fifty states were united to form one nation. It has since then adapted to reflect the “melting pot” attitude of America; that is, one nation built upon a multitude of races, ethnicities, languages, and peoples.
The sentiments of unity and cohesion impressed upon us in this motto are important themes. Especially in the wake of the recent Olympics and in anticipation of the upcoming national election, the message of unity and cohesion has been particularly highlighted. This message extends from ignoring distinct labels in choosing to help other people, to international affairs such as refugee crises,and, finally, to the community at Hopkins.
As the Olympic hype begins to fade, the world will not forget the lessons taught by particular athletes who represent this lesson of unity. The Olympics, while promoting national and territorial pride also are an important celebration of cohesion across the world. Take distance runners Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino from New Zealand and the United States of America respectively. After suffering a shared tumble about halfway through their 5,000 meter competition, each athlete helped and supported the other to cross the finish line, despite potential injuries and added delays to their times. In this instance, the two women were not concerned with their own personal successes or those of their respective countries, but were, instead, adamant to contribute to the common spirit of the event and were subsequently awarded a rare sportsmanship award, the Pierre de Coubertin Medal. Hence, while the two did not receive any titles or prizes for their athletic ability, the rewards they got for their choices to support the spirit of unity were far greater and the positive effect their actions had on both the Olympics and the world far outweigh any medals.
On a different note, it is particularly important to be united in the light of tragedy and discord. Despite what political belief one may have or what course of action should be taken, it is crucial to remember that each person on Earth holds a global citizenship. For example, with the current refugee crisis occurring in Syria, America is at risk of repeating its mistake in the Holocaust: its inability to recognize its role as a member of the world, not just a nation amongst many. In a recent editorial in The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof drew parallels between America’s current fear of accepting so-called “outsiders” and America’s fear seventy years ago. Kristof indicated that the current attitude of many Americans is that we must protect our citizens first. Regardless, the citizens of Syria are also our peers and our siblings. It is true that they do not reside in the same country or hold the same labels, yet, they are all members of this world, and in that regard, we must do everything in our power to help them. In World War II, Senator Robert Reynolds from North Carolina said, “Let Europe take care of its own.” There is no such thing as “their own” in a situation of mass suffering and pain. There is only an “all,” and a “together.”
This lesson of unity can also be applied to situations of less gravity, such as those at Hopkins. In group projects, in extracurricular activities, or even just in thinking about the year ahead, working together and considering others’ opinions are crucial skills. Mankind cannot prosper alone - mankind prospers together. A collaborative, supportive atmosphere is crucial in the pursuit of learning. It is true that Hopkins is divided into three schools: the Junior School, the Middle School, and the Senior School. And it is true that each subset of students may have different teachers, different classes, and different lunch periods. But the truth is that all these students are from Hopkins School. Relationships are sewn across the grades and mentorship and learning result from unity and cohesion in amongst all separate communities. A student cannot win a sports game alone. A student works together with his or her peers to learn from each other and rely on each other until victory is achieved.
While unity and sportsmanship may not always guarantee material, direct success, they will certainly reward its benefactors. Cohesiveness and unification is crucial. For example, despite being the most powerful creatures on Earth, lions do not roam alone. Lions stick together in a pride of lions. Perhaps lions could teach the citizens of this world a lesson about connections and solidarity.