Solidarity, Camaraderie and Brotherhood

“You are my brother, therefore I love you. I love you therefore I shall hurt you. I might as well kill you.” Illogical, incomprehensible, irrational. I do not know what it is like to join a fraternity. For one, I am a girl and two, had I been a boy, I’d probably be hearing this from my mom: “Kung magpapagulpi ka rin lang, ako na lng bubugbog sa’yo!” (If you want to get beaten up, I’d rather do it myself). That said with glaring eyes would be enough to send me off like a dog with tail between the legs. It bothers me though. It seems like ever since the day fraternity has marked its existence in history, it as well began claiming lives in the name of brotherhood. Just as it had many times before, it took the life of another guy just a few days ago. Had he not known that it would or it COULD happen, if not to him, to the others with him? It’s impossible that he had not. How could he not have known when the university is notorious for such goings-on? It has happened numerous times before. Despite the awareness, what could have pushed him to take the risk? Does the word brotherhood have some hypnotizing effect on it? Was it that enticing? Is he in dire need of a brother that he would take the chance and be willing to pay such as price just to ‘belong’? Is he that desperate for a friend? How can someone be so intelligent so as to be admitted in such a prestigious school be so easily swayed by the sweet talks of men luring young ones to their possible deaths? I might be blabbering out of innocence, trash-taking, going all against fraternities. Call it ignorance if you must but this idea of brotherhood and hazing doesn’t really make sense from a simple man’s point of view. Looking up at Microsoft Encarta (there’s the ground I needed), fraternities were said to be “associations, mainly of college and university students in the United States, established to further the social, scholastic, and professional interests of the members.” See? I think modern-day fraternities are losing track and if they think they could redeem themselves with their charity works, well, they’re getting it all wrong. Are hazing and frat wars part of their “social, scholastic, and professional interests”? How noble! My friend once explained that sometimes these guys do not really intend to join but because of the pressure coming from different fraternities (I hear they do go after you especially when you’ve got what it takes, meaning: you are intimidating, leader-type, rich and influential. Membership is by invitation, though not all the time, I guess, and it can be a perfect ego-booster- makes you fee oh-so-important. I have guy friends who had been invited before.) They give in to sort of protect themselves from further harassment (because that is what the big guys often promise, and yes, they can harass you with ‘you aren’t a real man till you become one of us’). But doesn’t that get you into deeper sludge?

“Their ideals, philosophy, and vision are same as mine and I strongly feel for what they are trying to achieve.” Yeah, right. Don’t forget the handshake. This is what I believe: If there is someone or anyone at all who should affirm my ideals, philosophies, values and visions, whatever it may be, that would be me, my own self and I. Why should I ask for their support and affirmation at the price of getting battered? Some say that hazing is a part of their pledge of loyalty, some kind of proof of their faithfulness, allegiance, fidelity-whatever you might want to call it, to the association. If you don’t chicken out, you’re the man. If you don’t quit, then you really do love the brotherhood. It is too cruel though, sad to say that their trust costs so much. I don’t have t beat up my brother and sister to know that they’d stand up for me when I need them to. I don’t need to do that to my friends either. My colleagues in the organizations I have joined didn’t have to practically whack me to know I am all for what we stand up for. Is there no other way? Something more humane? Is there pleasure in swinging the paddle and hearing the wood smack against flesh once, twice, thrice? Does the thumping sound that the club makes as it touches the skin makes one forget when enough is enough? Do the suppressed cries of pain sound so thrilling that make makes you want to hit some more? Is this the essence of brotherhood? We have lost another intelligent youth whose ideals could have made a bigger change, a brighter future. We all grieve yet do we fathom the anguish that his parents and family must be enduring now? Those who pledged to be his brothers, do they? Maybe they didn’t mean to claim his life. Maybe they didn’t really intend to hit him-them so hard. But what is lost is already lost. Who is to be blames? Who is to pay for the priceless loss? Who will be held responsible for the death of a man in the name of brotherhood?

Date written: August 30, 2007 after the death of Cris Anthony Mendez

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