At this time of year on college campuses throughout the United States, faculty, staff, and students are focused on the future. The air is filled with the marking of transitions, from finals to commencement, and wrap ups to send offs. But, there is no doubt that times of transition also are times of great uncertainty. What does the future hold?
In re-watching National Treasure (2004) this week, I was struck by the profound words of the founding fathers of the United States of America, as quoted by Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage):
Of all the ideas that became the United States, there's a line here that's at the heart of all the others. "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, ... it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and provide new Guards for their future security."
As eloquently summarized by Gates, "If there's something wrong, those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action." Throughout the movie, a number of people observe that people don't talk that way, to which Gates replies, "But they think that way."
In the fraternal world, our founders thought that way, offering future generations the legacy of our Rituals and values, and challenging us to change the world. Do our leaders still think that way? Is every group on the same page, securing our future? Or do they stand by and say, "It won't happen to us," clinging to the naive notion that they're somehow above the others? Do they look at "near misses" as aberrations, or as opportunities to do better?
Who is guarding our future, and delivering on our founders' promise? You have the ability to be a hero, and also the responsibility. Our fraternal future commences with you.