Pledge (pleg)n. (1) A person undergoing a trial period before formal initiation into a fraternity or sorority. (2) To accept tenative membership in a fraternity or sorority, to be accepted as a pledge. (3) Something promissed esp. money to be contributed in regular payments.
Haze (haz) vt. hazed, haz'ing (1) to punish or harass by forcing to do hard, unneccassary work. (2) to initiate or discipline (fellow students) by forcing to do ridiculous, humiliating, or painful things.
It is now time that we cover one of the most pressing issues facing Black Greek Lettered Organizations. How we be began, what we represent, and for many of us what we have lost. You have been given a glimpse into the things that unifies us in the hope that knowledge will destroy those things that separated us. It is sad to say that one thing that separates us, not as much as organizations, but more as members is the issue of how a person should be brought into an organization. If you ask a member about hazing, in most cases you will get the rehearsed, "We are a non-hazing organization." Yet there are many chapters of any organization that are known to make their pledgees do some questionable deeds. Here, we make excuses for what others do, and at the same time we don't want to come off as liars.
For a moment let us go back in time. Back to the time of the Egyptian/African traveler. Let us take a look at him before he set out on the journey to the land of the Greeks as a bringer of LIGHT. Let us remember what it was like when the traveler himself walked in DARKNESS in search of light. First, the traveler had a desire to become more than he was. He had a thirst for knowledge; a thirst so strong that the traveler prayed to God for the right direction. The traveler next inquired of the great minds of the time, for he wanted to become like them. Once a sage or griot (teacher) was found that would take the traveler in, the traveler was set with a challenge or as we call it a CHARGE. There were four charges that existed: The Charged of Instruction, The Charged of Liability, The Charge of Duty, and The Charge by wood and fire. The definition of the Charge of Instruction is to give instructions to or command with authority. The defintion of The Charge of Liability is to put liability on a person or to make liable. The definition of The Charge of Duty is to have care, custody , or supervision over.
When the first three charges were given out the traveler was joined by others who, like him were in search of light. It was instruction they were taught how to walk in the ways of great thinkers. Together they were made liable for knowledge they were given. If one possessed light they must all possess light. If one was to fall short then it was up to them "ALL" to carry that person. It was their duty to protect the knowledge and each other with engineers, architects, and leaders amongst men and women. For one day they would take on the titles of great sages or griots charged with the job of dispensing light to those walked in "DARKNESS".
After it was seen fit that they were ready to become full fledged travelers, they were tested by wood and fire. Wood was believed to be the purest form know to ancient man. In Egypt, know as Kemet then, wood was exalted because it contained three of the four elements: Earth, Wind, and Water. The fourth element, Fire, returned the wood to its basic components. Since wood was considered to be so pure, the Egyptians took it and "GENTLY" tapped the female sex organ with it. They believed that it would bring fertility to the female. It is for this reason that would be travelers were tested. They were "TAPPED" with wood in order to return them to their original elements that made them men.
Now you might ask how does this apply to the differences between pledging and hazing. Think for a minute over the journey of the traveler; read the two definitions. You must know that the pursuit of knowledge is similar to the trial period by which men are made. Understand that at some point in our lives, each one of us set out in search of light. This same light was meant to manifest a love in our hearts for God, ourselves, our fellow man, our fellow woman, and our world. Pledging was designed to bring out the best in the pledgee or aspirant. It was created to be a time of bonding , and time of struggle, a time of growth, but most of all a time of joy. For those who pledged they walked in darkness in search of the light that the organization had to offer. For those who did the pledging; it was meant to be their transition from recipients of light to dispenseres of light.
Unfortunately, the process of pledging at some point for many became a process of hazing. The trials for the purpose of bonding became trails of who could make a person laugh at the torment of others. The trials by which knowledge was taught and learned became trials of a person's pain threshold. The day that pledging became hazing, many members of Black Greek Lettered Organizations lost the knowledge of who we are and why we exist. If you were to ask a person who claims they pledged why they wood is used; there are many who would shrug their shoulders at you and say they didn't know. If you asked them why they are called a line; they would look at you with a puzzled frown on their faces. If you asked them why their line is named like a navel vessel; they would just ignore you. If you asked them what they are doing not just for their organization , but for empowerment of the Black Community; they would have to sit and wonder. If you ask them how they claim to be unified, but at the drop of a dime they disrespect other Greek Lettered Organizations: they would not know what to tell you.
There is no easy way to say this, but there is one thing that must be considered. If you don't know why wood was used, yet you are somone who thinks Wood=Pledging; then I am sorry to say that you have a lot to learn about pledging. If you think that being forced to stay up all night for someone else's amusement is pledging; then you have got a lot to learn about pledging.
Pledging is supposed to teach three things. Loyalty to the principles of the organization, loyalty to brotherhood/sisterhood amongst all men/women, and loyalty to the communtiy from which you came. If you learned all these things, no matter what your process was like, my brother....my sister you were pledged. If you did not ... sorry you were hazed. To all my Greek, this is a charge of two questions only you can answer. Were you pledged or were you hazed? Do you pledge or do you haze?