32. Phi Beta Delta: Sacrificing a Bull

Supposedly after Pythagoras discovered his famous theorem, a cornerstone of Western logic and rational thinking, he then sacrificed a bull to Apollo. That perhaps illustrates that life is not ever entirely and totally based on logic, and that human motivation is not ever entirely based on cold reason. Even the most unemotional are touched by holidays, birthdays, or other rites -- life without such color and poetics is simply not full or fulfilled.

Phi Beta Delta is not a necessity like water or bread, but it singles out one of the most important of all contemporary interests, internationalism, and goes about adding its colorful contribution to the campus and community. We are, when all is said and done, a recognition society. We want to recognize those who believe as we do that it is one world and that education is best when it is diverse, pluralistic, and resolutely international.

Knowing what we admittedly little we do know about Pythagoras, it seems open to question whether he really believed in Apollo other than as a sort of conceit for certain values. However, it is somehow reassuring that with all his genius, he took time out to perform a ritual and recognize a community value. We can live without our medallions and our ribbons, but like Pythagoras, we Greek honor members also know -- as Pythagoras did -- that being cerebral is only half the story, and being utilitarian is not the whole purpose of life. Occasionally in even the most balanced life, there is a need for the romance of ritual.

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