Enrichment and Inspiration for Beta Sigma Phi Sisters from Marilyn Ross
As Heard at the Michigan Convention -- Grand Rapids, 1947
By Mrs. Clayton Hoffman - Director of Alpha Chapter
(Paraphrased by Marilyn Ross)
In the fairy tales of our childhood, the fairy godmother always had a magic word which, if you would speak it with just the right intonation, would get you what you wanted. Beta Sigma Phi's founders chose three magic words when they named us, and if we give these three words our serious attention, they will help us attain what we want most-to make the most of ourselves, to realize all that we have it in us to be.
Our first letter, Beta, stands for the Greek word meaning life-the same word we have in biology, a study of life, or biography, a writing about a life. Everyone admits that life is a marvelous, important and valuable thing, but no one understands it. We put a brown bulb into the black earth and it performs a miracle. It sends up a green shoot which bears a red blossom. The black cow eats the green grass and turns it into white milk and yellow cream.
Although no scientist yet understands life, here we are in possession of this wonderful gift. Some people do not appreciate the gift, but blithely destroy their lives and make themselves old before their time by wrong methods of living or destructive emotional sprees. How can we make life the healthful, happy, confidant, prosperous thing that God meant it to be?
Alfred Adler, a great psychologist, tells us that our basic motivation is to be important. We want to make some impression in the world, to receive attention. This is a marvelous instinct; it makes people work hard and try to do big things. But, like all of our instincts, it can be used in the wrong way. We honk our horns impatiently in traffic; we get ill just to get attention; and sometimes we criticize others, thinking we shall appear greater ourselves.
The right way to express this desire to be important is through our work. If we think of work as drudgery, if we resist and hate it, living only for pay-day and vacation, we shall be tired and unhappy. But if we consider work our self-expression, our contribution, our way of being important, looking for the interesting and useful things about it, we can be so happy that the pay comes as so much velvet and vacations are just incidental.
Each of us should give a program about happiness, the goal most of us seek. We try in so many ways to be happy. We think that if we could get a high-salaried position, or get married, or become famous, or travel, then we could be happy. I was reared in the country and I remember that everyone around us, including my own father, was trying to save money enough to move into town and be happy. Now that I live in town, I have friends who are trying to save money so they can get "a little place in the country." Of course the answer is, begin now to be happy with what you have, where you are. Enjoy this golden moment!
Our second letter, Sigma, stands for knowledge. Emerson has said, "Education is not to make me seem greater to the world, but to make the world seem greater to me." The more we know about literature, art, music, and science, the greater the world seems to us. Why are most learned people the most humble people? It is because the more they know, the more they see there is to know; they see that knowledge is boundless and their capacity is limited. The law of the Universe is growth and progress. When we are not working with the law we feel unhappy, inferior and discontented. We must keep on studying! How much broader and fuller our lives are if we have an appreciation of the riches which are ours in knowledge. We cannot afford to use our minds for less than worthwhile things.
These two things, a feeling of making our contribution to the world, and the increasing of our knowledge, are two long steps toward happiness. But happiness shared is happiness doubled. And this brings us to our third letter, Phi, which stands for friendship. Perhaps the greatest need in the world today is for people to feel their oneness with each other, to know that when they hurt others they hurt themselves, and when they help others they help themselves because we are all one. "You are members one of another and the eye cannot say to the hand I have no need of you." In our sorority, we feel this oneness with each other; each member's interest becomes the interest of all, and each member's need, the need of all. We begin to realize the meaning of cooperation. When men can carry this feeling into international relationships, there will be no more war.