My name is Scott Cunningham and I am a junior and proud brother of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at Indiana State University.
Today was our third day on the Habitat for Humanity site and we were all up and ready to go as we have now had a chance to adjust to the day-in and day-out routine of the early morning wake-up. One of the major exterior projects we had worked on for the day was the installation of windows, walls, and other features which will allow the structure to withstand weather similar to what it experienced in 2005. Many of us have told tales of trial and failure whether it be using a hammer or buzz-saw for the first time, but much of the Habitat staff have been surprisingly hands-off and forgiving. Some of us here have said that they don't feel that same kind of forgiveness is allowed in their real world setting whether it be on a big term paper, upcoming group project, or a project in their fraternity/setting.
Tonight's discussion focused on the concept of congruence. Congruence requires that one has identified personal values, beliefs, attitudes, emotions, and acts consistently with those values, beliefs, attitudes, and emotions. A congruent individual is genuine, honest, and "walks the talk". The phrase "walk the talk" stuck out to Miranda, a Sigma Kappa sister, who openly pondered how many of those who are confronted about the potential negative aspects of Greek life actually do "walk the talk" and live the values taught in their respective rituals. Our opening reflection/quote for the night was one spoken by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He once said, "We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity." This quote was further explored when we discussed our ability to recite certain famous alumni but we failed to idolize our brothers and sisters who've touched our lives or have paved the way or allowed us to experience what they have experienced through their positive decisions and commitment to their organization's ritual. These were important messages throughout the night as we participated in our island activity. In this activity, we were given a card which listed a characteristic, quality, or trait in which we exemplified. Some were positive traits such as compassion while others were negative such as apathy. Four of us were on a island and were each assigned the task of voting out a certain member off the island based on their trait. Naturally, those with alike traits gathered together on these islands until all that remained were the outcast fraternity, the so-so fraternity, the excellence fraternity, and the horrible fraternity. The message was to remain consistent and recruit those with values that are taught in your ritual. Negative influences can spread within your chapter and that one negative influence will become three bad influences then five then nine then fifteen and soon you have a major problem within your chapter that needs to be addressed. What was once a joke within the chapter has now become a major clique that is a negative influence on your chapter's productivity, image, integrity, and morale. Congruence in the key and the quality you must possess in order to confront these kinds of issues. If you see these issues, you not only have an opportunity to amend but an obligation to do so as well. Dave said it best when he said that our ritual is a compass, not a weather vane. It is a constant that will always remain true, much like a compass that will always point north. It is not a weather vane, meaning it does not go with the change of time. Ritual is what we all live and while our organizations may be different, what we value is the same. We must be congruent with what our ritual teaches if our Greek communities are to thrive.