Enrichment and Inspiration for Beta Sigma Phi Sisters from Marilyn Ross
""The shaping of our own life is our own work. It is a thing of beauty or a thing of shame - as we ourselves make it."
These words from our Pledge Ritual are the very cornerstone of Beta Sigma Phi, just as they are representative of the first letter of our name and the first word of our motto.
From this concept we have evolved our activities and our philosophies. Accepting the premise that the shaping of our life is our own work, we resolve to make it a life devoted to high aims - the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. We pledge our life to friendship and to learning.
This approach is affirmative, confident, idealistic, and we rejoice that it is so. We believe that life is for living, and love is for giving!
We believe with Thoreau that "Man was born to succeed, not to fail."
All the streets of the world are teeming with people who mutilate themselves with self-criticism or self-pity, destroying their own creative talents, committing partial self-suicide. The world is very vocal with private imperialists condemning others, destroying hope, faith, and love, committing psychological homicide. This path of negation is not for us.
While the many tell us what is "wrong" with the world, we continue to seek and enjoy the many things that are right. Rather than criticize our fellows, we strive to improve ourselves.
Our own job - and it is a big one - is the shaping of our own lives. As these come into focus with the goals we have chosen, we are able to "do unto others" as we wish others would do unto us. We are able to give love, faith, and hope instead of deprecation.
An old Hindu proverb says, "There is nothing noble in being superior to some other man. True nobility is in being superior to your previous self."
"I have more trouble with myself than with any other man I ever met!" said Dwight Moody, the famous evangelist.
Beta Sigma Phi is a do-it-yourself organization. Our meetings are workshops where we study and discuss the ways and means of the "art" of living - the ways and means for shaping our own lives. Our programs, therefore, are as broad as life itself, and as challenging and interesting and inexhaustible.
A good program, well-prepared and given, is like an airplane that lifts us on high and changes our perspective from small strivings and petty irritations, which, with the real cares and important problems, have come between us and the sense of living. It restores in us the pulse and rhythm of a larger life, and renews our faith in goodness and truth and beauty.
Our programs have special significance because of our rituals. Every program is planned to present some facet, however small, of the essential goals to which we commit ourselves in our ceremonies. These, and the discussions they engender, help us to find ourselves and to be ourselves.
Hamlet is the most famous of Shakespeare's plays and probably the most quoted literary item of all time. And the most quoted - and perhaps the finest lines of the play - are the good, strong words of Polonius, words of advice to his son about the molding of his life and character. Taken from the context of the play, they stand by themselves, vital and complete. Sincerity is inherent in every line, and the closing three lines rise to spiritual majesty when he says:
This above all, to thine own self be true;
In everyday life we learn to be ourselves, to be true to ourselves through knowing ourselves in private, and through our dealings with others. We need privacy in which to assess and repossess ourselves. Without privacy, we lose the feel of our own being, the sense of our own identity and individuality.
We need privacy in which to comprehend what we are taught in association. But never in isolation or self-centeredness can one attain full selfhood. We need association with others for the weaving of those relationships that make us feel at home in our world.
Meeting after meeting, year after year, we pursue the study of conduct, expression, purpose, beauty, truth, and goodness. Art, music, literature, happiness, friendship, aesthetics, ethics, anything and everything that is part of life and will help us in shaping a life of our own.
We love wisdom enough to raise the great questions and to reflect on these. We know that whatever else we can do without, we cannot do without a philosophy of living. And this we find individually, without constraint or conformity, differing as we please, yet somehow growing ever closer in friendship and fidelity to the general concept from which we start. We revere life, we respect ourselves as creations of divine potential, and we do something about our belief.
We agree with Hans Christian Andersen that "Every man's life is a fairy tale written by the hand of God." Many golden moments come from this. Our rituals inspire us, but it is the reiteration of their teachings which we receive from good programs that show us how to apply our beliefs to life.
If we have sincerity and keep our hearts open to the wonder and truth that lies everywhere about us, the golden moments come to us. They will redeem our days and their echoes will still sing in us as we meet the requirements of the common hour."