With National Ritual Celebration Week underway, I think it’s important to take a moment to celebrate the uniqueness of our own Ritual. In his now famous TED Talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” Simon Sinek challenges us to explore our “Why” — our core purpose and beliefs.
So often we get caught up in “What” we do and “How” we do it that we fail to remember our “Why” — we fail to remember WHY we exist and WHY we’re proud to be brothers of Pi Kappa Phi.
So, what is it that sets Pi Kappa Phi apart from other fraternities? Everyone offers brotherhood, however we have something truly unique.
We all know the story of our Founders’ desire to lead the Chrestomathic Literary Society. Nu Phi formed in an effort to seize the leadership of the Society; however, the attempt was thwarted when some of the original 15 — men they believed to be their friends — proved to be disloyal. Devastated by this betrayal, the seven loyal Nu Phis created a new group — to be known as Pi Kappa Phi — founded on the principles of true friendship seen throughout the Classics.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the curriculum at the College of Charleston focused heavily on Greek and Latin, as well as classical literature, philosophy, and ethics. Students read and pondered the works of Socrates and Aristotle, in particular Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. In this foundational work, Aristotle examines extensively the ideals of friendship.
Although Aristotle describes three forms of friendship, he concludes that friendships of virtue — those “between people who are good and alike in virtue” — are the highest good a person can achieve. They are the ultimate form of love.
This level of friendship happens between few people, is long lasting, and can only be shared with those of a certain moral character. People involved in virtuous friendships must be able to value selflessness over self-interest, and as such, their relationships are based on treating others as they want to be treated. Their friendships are based on wanting what is best for the other person. Their friendships are based on a love, authenticity, and ethic of care that cannot be matched.
I believe this is our “Why” — the fundamental belief upon which our Founders created Pi Kappa Phi — and that our virtuous friendship — between all members — must continue to define our Brotherhood, today, tomorrow, and always.
Dick Baker, Delta Beta (North Georgia)
Dick Baker is the chairman of the Volunteer Standing Committee and also serves on the Ritual and Insignia Committee as dean of the Certified Ritualist Program. In 2010, he was named the Volunteer of the Year and in 2012 was awarded the Merit Citation, the fraternity’s second highest honor. His wife Katie is currently on the national headquarters staff and their son Trey is an alumnus of Tau Chapter at NC State