On Tuesday, October 11th, as Occupy Northwest Arkansas protesters were standing across the street from an University of Arkansas fraternity, members of the fraternity unfurled a banner proclaiming themselves "the 1%". If you aren't familiar with the Occupy Wall Street Movement, its disciples, followers, and participants identify themselves as the 99%, who are disenfranchised, displaced, and dispirited by the "super-rich 1%".
The members of the Arkansas fraternity, by calling themselves "the 1%" chose to align themselves with the egocentric, hedonistic, self-important stereotype that often is associated with "fraternity". It is a stereotype that many of us have railed against in the movement for "values congruence" and in support of "founding principles".
Which leads us to a a very different "1%" that fraternity men and sorority women have been called to align with and live up to.
In the 1800s, the idea of fraternity was so fragile that college students conducted clandestine, dimly lit meetings to establish their Hellenistic societies. At that pivotal time, only 1% of the college-aged population were participating in higher education.
Nonetheless, despite their affluence and immense social privilege, these small groups of college men and women committed themselves, and countless generations to follow, to a simple, yet profound idea: A commitment to personal development and selfless service can change the world. Rather than a proverbial rest on their laurels, they dug deep into their hearts and souls to find that the foundation of their future was built in the bedrock of brotherhood, sisterhood, and the great joy of serving others.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does.” -Margaret Mead
This is the true legacy of fraternities and sororities, and it is undoubtedly worth living up to.