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Thursday, August 2, 2012

For A Brother's Love

Dying for brotherhood.
(Courtesy of


That's how I would describe the death of Marc Andre Marcos.

Seeing his lifeless body on the television news, I tried not to wince when the camera focused on the blackish red hues on his arms and legs, indicating that these were the areas so lovingly beaten by his supposed "brothers", so that they could be given proof that he would be...I don't know, is loyal the right word?

There are no right words to justify a horrible and grievous wrong, perpetrated in the name of a mockery of sibling affection.

Having never been part of a fraternity, I am not at all misty-eyed about how "outsiders" will never understand how deep their bonds supposedly are, and how they are there for each other, through the direst of situations.

I can't think of a situation more desperately dire than the death of someone you wished to initiate into this brotherhood you so romantically sing paeans about when there are "others" around, a death caused by those within this organization professing an embracing and welcoming of new recruits. (This would be the type of welcome I would expect from an S and M Club, and I understand that even they have "rules", like control words that can be utilized when the masochist has "had enough".)

What does a fraternity offer, by way of advantages, that pushes men who are about to enter their productive years into salivating for places in these hallowed "houses"?

In my college years, there were two standout reasons that I have heard, having been surrounded by fraternities in UP, and the wannabes who so desperately wanted to be "included".

One, when you get into a brawl, your "brothers" will come to your aid.

Two, your job security is, well, secured, because the "upper classmen" (older fraternity brothers, those already entrenched in government, big business and other industries) will give you sterling recommendations, open career doors and even outright hire you and groom you for a successful financial future.

None of those reasons sound very appealing to me, and to my mind, to anyone who is not enamored with the words "heritage" or "tradition" when you can be killed as part of the initiation rites.

For the first reason:

Why get in a brawl in the first place?

The usual fights I have witnessed when I was in school were among opposing fraternities, and none of these "brothers" are pretty much willing to discuss the root of their fights, except to say that the other fraternity "started it first".

Do we even need a reason to say that this really isn't a good justification for upholding fraternities?

For the second reason:

I don't see how this differs from people that we accuse of being corrupt, or of practicing nepotism.

See, my parents brought us up in a meritocracy: that everything we would seek as a reward should have a corresponding "work" behind it. Whenever we would get perfect grades or do our chores, my mom would give us a list of "prizes" and to choose only one from it. You can call it cruel Pavlovian training, you can ask "didn't you feel like you were being strung along?"...but it definitely reinforced the fact that if you wanted the good stuff, there'd better be some sweat under your brow or some serious study time, soemtimes lasting well into the night.

And I have carried that belief into my own professional life now. I am extremely averse to people who schmooze their way into positions, who get a job because they happened to be a relative, who don't bother working their way up and instead, expect to be given privileges on the basis of some "feature" that  didn't require them to do anything other than mention, "oh, by the way, did I mention that I..."

Giving privileges to younger people who just happened to be from the same fraternity doesn't make them try harder, do better, go further. It only inculcates a smug sense of superiority for someone just joining the workforce, probably looking at his co-applicants with pity, all along mentally congratulating himself that he already has the job in the bag, owing to the bonds of brotherhood.

Is this how they infuse new blood into The Old Boys' Club?

Can anyone give me a good reason why fraternities should be patronized, defended, and possibly even celebrated?

If it's because of their charity works, you can do that without joining one.

If it's to have camaraderie and friendship, and to be accepted into a secret circle to feel validated, that may point to a flaw in self esteem.

Andre, like so many fatal hazing victims, who have given their lives so willingly, all to be part of this society, is calling out to all of us.

The question is, how do we respond to Andre's senseless death?

Do we just wink, say "that's what it means to be in a fraternity" and look away?

Or do we make sense of his death by doing what's right?


  1. I don't get the fuss over fraternities either.

    Most people I know who have great jobs/careers got them on the basis of their merits...

  2. A frat guy once tried to explain why they did the hazing stuff. He said something like it was necessary because it's tradition and they need it to be accepted by the older frat guys, blah blah blah. None of his explanations made sense. I think fraternities are stupid institutions and I'm not ashamed to admit that I judge people when they say that they belong to one.