The Bloody Brotherhood

Fraternities (Photo Credit: Reforgedbrotherhood)
Fraternities (Photo Credit: Reforgedbrotherhood)

The reality behind fraternities and sororities has long since baffled me. They say it’s all about brotherhood/sisterhood – a strong bond able to defy life and death. Is my mind just too narrow for refusing to buy this statement?

Fraternities  (Photo Credit:  Reforgedbrotherhood)
Fraternities (Photo Credit: Reforgedbrotherhood)

We all know that to get into a fraternity and sorority, an initiation is required. This is to test the sincerity and loyalty of a potential member and to see how far the member would bend over for the sake of brotherhood or sisterhood. In more professional and less complicated groups, an initiation may be a simple act of sworn allegiance, an oath of fealty or a customary welcome party with its own quirks and silly surprises for the new member. For sororities, however, and most specially for fraternities, initiations are more intense and life-threatening.

Initiation rites vary from one fraternity/sorority to another or from one chapter to another. I don’t know who decides what or how but the words of chapter leaders are usually the accepted laws, One initiation rite that I heard of during my high school days involved making the candidates choose two options with undisclosed consequences; the candidate was asked to choose between the choices masarap (pleasurable) and masakit (painful). When candidates opted for the pleasurable choice, regardless of his/her virginity, he/she would be blindfolded and the members in attendance would then take turns doing him/her to the point of exhaustion. But if the candidate preferred a painful initiation instead, he/she would be beaten up badly or asked to beat up someone – one of the members or maybe a friend or relative. Hazing in fraternities is rather the most common form of initiation. Others deliberately burn your wrist with a cigarette or a heated coin as though members are cows on a ranch that need to be branded. What do these things have to do with “brotherhood,” anyway? I just cannot fathom.

I cannot in my entire existence accept a brotherhood that allows the deliberate shedding of blood just to prove one’s loyalty to and sincerity in joining a group. The intentional infliction of pain and violence and the subjection of human beings to humiliating and painful experiences are realities I shudder to think about. I may be deemed interfering, poking my nose into other people’s business, but this is my challenge: is it really necessary? How necessary? In the course of belonging, do you really have to throw your morals away? Do you have to subject yourself to pain and humiliation just to be accepted by a group? That you would put so much more value to the unreasonable dictates of a group over your own freedom and sense of self-worth, do you even have an ounce of dignity left in you? I ask those who foolishly risked and lost their lives during sorority and certainly during fraternity initiations. Please answer my questions because I did not and still cannot understand you people at all.

For the fraternities (because lives lost in sorority initiations are less reported or less likely to occur), what do you think of human dignity? What is a human being to you? Should brotherhood take precedence over individual worth? Is hazing, or whatever humiliating and painful initiation rites for that matter, the only available method for forging the bonds of brotherhood? The heck!

There was this recent hazing incident involving a San Beda Law student, who died after he suffered a beating to his vital organs by members of a fraternity I will not mention. His death dealt a personal blow to me, a self-proclaimed champion of life and human dignity. It was senseless, meaningless and infuriating. The guy wanted to join a group; he did not want to die that early for Pete’s sake! He wanted “brothers” who can help him through thick and thin and perhaps to satisfy his belongingness needs. Even if it was not intentional, just look where your stupid rites got him: to the grave. That’s why it’s unnecessary, these forms of initiations that deliberately shame and inflict pain on aspiring frat members. For more details on the incident, go to this site.

From what I have witnessed throughout the years, fraternities and sororities have become breeding grounds for violent teenagers, be it delinquent or not. Most of them have also developed delusions of grandeur and are under the impression that they are so cool just because they belong to such a group. These teenagers are mindless of the danger they have put themselves into.

During my years in high school and college (approximately 5 or so years in the making until it died down on its own), the Tau Gamma Phi and the Alpha Kappa Rho (AKRHO) were at each others’ throats. There were shooting and stabbing incidents everywhere in Cebu. Even ordinary friends who did not have any bone to pick with one another ended up enemies on the street because they so happened to belong to rival fraternities. Senseless deaths met these friends, relatives, acquaintances and complete strangers. They had no personal grudge against each other; they had no particular reason to kill except for some twisted, complicated and unreasonable group squabbles.

What alarmed me then was the fact that teenagers barely out of puberty got hold of guns and were even daring enough to shoot. Don’t even get me started on pseudo-frat groups like the Bloods and Crips. That thing between them is beyond me already and if I can be crass about it, it was plain stupid. There was no honor, dignity, brotherhood or whatever at stake. Just utter violence, drugs and juvenile delinquents mimicking Uncle Sam’s homegrown gangs. Pumped up kicks, anyone?

Syndicates, mishandled recruitment system, infiltration of grassroots delinquents – whatever the supreme leaders of the fraternities had to say was pointless. None of the lives lost in that silly fraternity war could ever be revived again. The only way they could make amends was disbandment, if not completely changing their initiation system. You let every member get in by subjecting them to violence, so shall you beget more violence. If you did not want your groups to be infiltrated by delinquents or syndicates in the first place, take out all those stupid initiation rites. By keeping them, you’re no different from the delinquents and syndicates who allegedly tainted the reputation of your respective fraternities.

There are better more humane ways of recruiting members into your group. There are so many ways: let them take a long test (AKRHO or Tau Gamma’s history and founders, yadayad), give them a probationary period (to discern how sincere they are) or give them reasonable enough challenges like allowing them to single-handedly organize an event or feed a hundred school children. Whatever your method is, do not make it such that you harm your potential members physically, emotionally and mentally. Fraternities have to start from their initiation system and the rest will follow. Others may have gotten away for now, but you never know when justice will be served. I’m not merely yapping here. Violence begets violence. Deal with it.

About X-Tin Gabs

I am an idealist. I seek for the unheard of and revel in humanity's uncommon imperfections. I write because there is something to tell the world. Such an exertion, I think, is giving me a proper purpose here on earth. I am open to all comments, suggestions, violent reactions and curses. To each his own.