5. Phi Beta Delta: The Idea of Initiation

In this busy age, most organizations to which we belong do not have a formal initiation. In fact, speaking frankly, a lot of such memberships are more like subscriptions. The National Geographic Society has annual meetings but few people take membership as a personal commitment. Joining is not a serious experience in many groups, which possibly is an indication of how standards of excellence and of competence have been assailed. Indeed, mentioning initiation immediately indicates that the organization is different from the ordinary -- it would seem strange to speak of being initiated into the automobile association, however useful such membership might be.

As an honor society, Phi Beta Delta is different from other campus clubs. The ceremony of joining or of initiation is important. The candidates have the symbolism of the society explained to them and they are enjoined to live up to the ideals, which are represented. Initiation implies real commitment and obligation, and carries with it the notion that with honor comes responsibility. In Phi Beta Delta, one is singled out amongst peers not only for having shown an above average interest in internationalism but also for willingness to work for international understanding in the future.

Initiation only occurs once. If the candidate is not properly prepared, or if a chapter fails in its duty to make the moment a meaningful one, it's not something that can be done over. It is a unique moment. Many chapters of Phi Beta Delta make it so, using the arts and challenging the initiate with music and a proper solemnity. So proper preparation and lots of thought about making the event special are well in order. It should be an event to be remembered, cherished, and reflected upon.

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