More Than This
When I think about the phrase “more than this,” my mind instantly goes to music. I’m constantly doing this; connecting parts of my life with music lyrics. I think it’s because music has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Or, maybe I am trying to find ways to express myself using the words and thoughts of another person, but that is another topic for another time.
One of my favorite things to do is to explore what the song writer was thinking when they wrote a particular song. The phrase “more than this” reminds me of the Switchfoot song, “Meant to Live,” because the chorus says, “We were meant to live for so much more.” And this is where I like to go down a rabbit hole. According to the songwriter, some of the inspiration for this song comes from a poem by T.S. Elliot titled “The Hollow Men.”
Admittedly, I have never read this piece of literature prior to this discovery. The poem has a number of pieces I am familiar with because they are referenced in other mediums. The statement, “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whisper,” is one I have heard in a number of places. As I read this poem, I was struck by how relatable it is to our current situation in the world of fraternity/sorority life.
And here is where I make my point. I don’t think the end of fraternities and sororities will come because of the actions of a few of our members who refuse to live by the oath and standard that we all agree to upon becoming members of our organizations. I am convinced that if our communities end, it will be the result of those of us who are “hollow men and women.” Those of us who live somewhere “between the idea and the reality” of what it means to be a member of our proud organizations.
One beautiful piece of being in a Greek-letter organization as an undergraduate is that it exposes you to learning opportunities that are very practical to your everyday life. Maybe it is learning how to motivate members of your organization to be active participants in philanthropy or having difficult conversations with a member who is not living up to the standards that were set for us by our founders.
Perhaps it is even an opportunity to look back on your experience and wonder how it could have been different if you had stood up for something that you know now. That is why I ultimately got into the business of advising fraternity and sorority members; because I look back on my experience and wonder what it would be like if I had taken a stand and put an end to the way that we treated men who wanted to be part of our chapter. Would my chapter still be on campus? Could I go back for a Homecoming event and see all the good work that current chapter members were doing? I guess I will never know.
You see, I was a “Hollow Man.” I liked the idea of being a fraternity man, but I didn’t stand up for what I should have when it mattered. Now, I am left wondering.
Albert Einstein once said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
It’s not enough to just be a member of your organization. It is time for us to be more than that. Make your organization better by making yourself, and everyone else around you, better by holding them accountable to the values that your organization was founded upon. And, make it part of everything you do. Build your events around the idea of what it means to be a fraternity/sorority member. Plan your retreat and meetings with the idea of focusing on what makes your organization special. If something is being done that is out of line with those values, stop doing it. If you need help putting a stop to it, ask your fraternity/sorority advisor or an alumni member that you trust. But whatever you do, don’t sit by and watch as others around you are caught between the “emotion and the act” of being a fraternity or sorority member.
Imagine if you could get your entire organization to start behaving this way. Now imagine if your organization could get your entire fraternity/sorority community to behave like this. And then, what if your fraternity/sorority community began to impact every community that it represents to do more. To do “more than this.”
I believe we are all called to do more, and it is our job as members of this community to do just that. I am constantly amazed by the promise that the leaders of our undergraduate chapters show, and I have no doubt this generation can be the one to bring our organizations closer to the ideal that our founders had in mind all those years ago.
Dustin Wolfe is the Associate Director of Student Involvement at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He considers it his purpose to help others realize their potential using their passion and his knowledge and life experiences to provide them with opportunities to be successful. Dustin has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology and a master’s degree in Student Affairs and College Counseling from Southern Arkansas University, the home of the Muleriders