Community is an ambiguous word. It can be big (think the East Coast community) or small (the community of left handed Austin baristas). A community could be a collection of like-minded individuals, or a large group of individuals that don’t know each other (once again, think New York City).
What a community can do is provide us with security. Whether big or small, we take comfort in knowing that at the end of the day, someone in our community will be there for us.
There are examples of communities all over the world, that are small or large, and that provide the same security. For many 20-something Americans, one particular community that comes to mind is the fraternities and sororities that encompass the college experience.
While often scrutinized, fraternities and sororities often represent the pinnacle in terms of the security provided by its members to one another. Stories of brothers and sisters banding together to help raise money for a fallen member, of fallen family member of one of their own are the things that don’t show up in campus or national headlines.
Some enjoy their fraternity experience so much they’ve compared living in the house to “living with 30 of your best friends,” as you spend breakfast, lunch, dinner, formals, parties, meetings, and casual Saturdays sitting around with your brothers, talking about everything from women, to sports, to the future. You see people’s highest highs (both literally and metaphorically) and lowest lows, and get to know your brothers (or sisters) in a way that maybe their high school friends did not.
What else within fraternities causes this bond to form? The pledge process. The fact that, for eight weeks, you, along with 30 or so other guys or girls are subject to certain tasks designed not only to tire you out, but also to grow you, and bond you together. There is no greater bonding experience than one where a small sampling of people take some sort of adversity and manage grow as a unit while battling that hardship. It’s those types of situations that help a group of random guys become best friends, and come to their fellow pledge brother’s aide in any instance.
The headlines paint one picture. But actually being a member of the Greek community, and reaping the benefits paints another, one of strength, friendship, and a security that is matched in very few other organizations.