My Dear Brothers,
In light of the almost unimaginable human tragedies facing the world today, I thought I should take a moment and share some thoughts with you from my perspective as your National President.
Father Mills made it a great personal endeavor to help the sick and suffering, doing what he could by himself and with the help of students from the New England Conservatory, in turn-of-the-century Boston. His efforts, growing out of deep personal conviction, remain near and dear to us today. I am not referring just to the Mills Music Mission, but to our recognition as Brothers in Sinfonia that there is a brotherhood of all mankind, and that we recognize in our fellow men—Muslim, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist; whatever one’s personal belief system—the same divine spark which we ourselves have.
Our response to the suffering of others takes the form of compassion. And there is much compassion in our hearts as we watch events unfold around the world. The loss of life from the recent tsunami in Asia is almost beyond our comprehension. We not only grieve for the dead, but grieve for the families who have lost loved ones and every earthly possession they had. And consider also the suffering in Darfur in the Sudan, where a government is allowing genocide against its own people. Then there are the people of the Middle East, many of whom have spent their entire lives in refugee camps. The list has no end.
We live in a world where suffering is a part of life. Sinfonia as an organization is not capable of saving all the people of the world from suffering, nor even a small fraction. I am not writing today to organize a grand relief effort, nor demanding that everyone “pitch in” with the idea of making you feel guilty if you don’t—we could easily become entirely focused on donating money to relieve suffering, and lose sight of our other goals. What I am asking is that you take a moment and reflect on the world and its suffering; if you should choose to make a response, either as an individual or as a chapter, that would be marvelous. Let your conscience be your guide. If you have nothing to give, there is no need to beat yourself up. But anything at all that is done or given for the right reasons is a blessing to the recipients.
This is larger than just the tsunami victims—think of the other charitable organizations which also do great work who may find their donations falling off because everyone is focused on this one tragedy, impairing their ability to help others in need. Governments are able to put forward millions, or billions, of dollars to help such situations. We cannot, nor should we try to, compete with that. I am talking about us as individuals and chapters, according to our hearts. I believe that the government is suggesting that people of good will consider giving to organizations which are already engaged in noble relief efforts, such as the Red Cross, UNICEF and the Salvation Army. If you choose to do something as an individual, or as a chapter, this might be the direction you should go, with money rather than physical goods.
Finally, I would like to ask that you think of this even after this current tragedy recedes from memory—the attention span of the world is short, and it is all too easy to become numb to suffering. We are dedicated to our ideals for a lifetime. I hope that, upon reflection, you can find some way, as men of light and song, to make the world a better place.
Affectionately, and Fraternally yours in Phi Mu Alpha,
Richard A. Crosby