I was recently asked by somebody who had just arrived to the United States from Vietnam, what the word "fraternity" means. This is not something I usually have to answer, and it caused me to give pause and think about how to answer the question.
I could have given her a textbook answer, something along the lines of "we are an organization designed to enhance the collegiate experience of men and to give them lifelong skills and resources which will augment the course of their life for the better." I really didn't feel that would mean a whole lot to her though. So I thought about what defines us as organizations; what, at the deepest fundament, drives us toward our collective future? What is our purpose?
"We believe that morality exists." That is how I began my explanation. We believe that morality exists and that it has the power to affect and change lives. We find men who share our belief that values and the virtues of men have motive power in our society. We unite them for the purpose of creating change. We grow together by challenging ourselves to be better men, and we strive to leave the world better than we found it.
"Is this a religious group?" she asked me. I answered no, we do not subscribe to a specific faith other than a faith in ourselves as men and in our confidence to be capable of success. It is our faith in each other and faith in the fact that the world CAN be made better that drives us.
So. In light of all this, are we succeeding? Do you agree that this is our purpose? If so, are you fulfilling it? Is your chapter? Is the entirety of the fraternity? As an international organization, are we affecting the world for the better or for the worse? How can we improve?
I believe in this fraternity, but after almost a year of traveling and working with different chapters I have learned that these questions are some of the most poignant questions we could be asking. We have moved away from our purpose. It is time to get back to our fundamentals. Let's act now and create the change that is so desperately needed because, gentlemen, I believe we have work to do.