12. Phi Beta Delta: Ribbons of Meaning

Ribbons can be meaningful. The display of them often indicates a hope or wish.

There is something special about ribbons. They adorn hats, they are tied around our gifts on special days, and they are part of our regalia as members of Phi Beta Delta. When we are inducted into the society we have the colors of the ribbon explained, but possibly we don't reflect much on how ribbon is used so frequently to convey meaning. A blue ribbon can mean someone supports the Campaign for Free Speech or the International No Diet Day. A purple ribbon protests animal abuse. But a purple ribbon can also indicate cancer awareness or Workers for Religious Tolerance. A metallic gold ribbon stands for childhood cancer awareness. A green ribbon supports children with optic nerve hyperplasia, but a green ribbon can also spotlight a supporter of organ donation. A violet ribbon indicates Artists Against Racism. Pale brown ribbons can mean the Taskforce Against Chain Emails. Black ribbons stand for Suppressing Hippies or a member of the Anarchist League. An orange ribbon indicates a member of Fighting Fingerprinting or a brother in the Loyal Orange Order.

Clearly ribbons can back a powerful punch. These days people have opinions about an awful lot of issues and they have taken to sporting ribbons to show their feelings. We might well ask ourselves in Phi Beta Delta what the ribbon that we all wear with our medallion means. Does it mean as much as all those ribbons that we see? Surely it means standing for the international values of education, for the respect for cultures and traditions not our own, and for the exchange of views that comes with travel and study. We can wish others well with their ribbons, while remembering that we too have a ribbon, a special one -- red and yellow, representative of the values of our society and its interesting history. It's hard to think of a birthday or anniversary without ribbons, and it's hard to think of Phi Beta Delta without our familiar and, if one may boast just a little, quite handsome ribbon.

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