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Posts tagged ‘friendship’

Fraternities As Community Security

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.

fraternity community sesrvice construction working together

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.

What Social Media Means to Individuals in a Global Community

badajoz sunset vista view Spain fortressA year ago I was sitting on a Spanish fortress with four friends. One was Italian, another Spanish, one Turkish and the last was from Florida. As we sat there, sharing a bottle of wine and watching the sun set over the Spanish frontier city of Badajoz, it occurred to me that this moment would be one that I treasured for the rest of my life.

I learned a lot from those friends. In fact, they and many of my other friends taught me a great deal about myself and the world around me. Friends, family members, teachers and co-workers have a knack for doing that. Our values, tastes in music, film, food, fashion, lifestyle and even our speech patterns largely stem from those who we most identify with. We piece our own personalities and tastes together based on things that these people share with us and, even if we don’t mean to, we tend to rub off on them as well.

A friend might play a song for us that forever alters our taste in music. We might hear someone use a phrase in that song that we appreciate and add to our vocabulary. Someone you know might post photos from an exotic destination that will give you the urge to go there. You might post a video that exposes another friend to something they may eventually pursue passionately.

The lesson in all of this is that everyone learns from and is shaped by the world around them. With the social networks that we’ve embraced so far, our circles of influence have expanded, but not nearly as much as they could.

As members of a global community we are the first generation that has the opportunity to learn from a much, much wider sphere of influence that has extended to include…well, the whole world.

We are compelled by the new and different. This is a fact of life that is and has been true for thousands of years. Evolution, whether it was the evolution of a species, a product or a cultural value, has always embodied the importance of the new. It provided us with new answers to old problems, new perspectives, new ways of life. Imagine if our world had never embraced the new. We wouldn’t have gotten very far as a species if we never took chances and tried something different.

This is the first time in the history of our planet when we can learn from and share our own passions with people on the other side of the world. We are no longer constrained by the immediate. Instead, our spheres of influence have become limitless. We now have access to every musical genre in the world. We can see photos of far away places. We can discover who we are and who we want to be.

The friends I shared wine with on that castle wall taught me so much about life, friendship, hospitality, style and personal philosophy. I can’t wait to see what I can learn from the rest of the world.

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