What Does Our Principle of “Brotherhood” Mean? Is it Exclusionary?

“I will always regard the ties of Brotherhood in the Order of the Arrow as lasting.” — Obligation of the Order of the Arrow

“Weld tightly every link that binds us in Brotherhood” — Order of the Arrow Song

Our principle of Brotherhood appears the simplest of the three. We, the members of the Order of the Arrow, are bound together by our common experiences (particularly the Ordeal) and by our Obligation and purpose. This is all true.

But if this is all there is to Brotherhood, then it is all about what we share with each other that we do not share with others. We are in the Brotherhood. Everyone else isn’t. Us vs them! An exclusionary attitude. Permission to feel this is where i leave you rotten tomatoes smug about how much better we are than everyone else. Yuck!

This is the foundation of our principle of Brotherhood. Ties to each other. But it obscures the ultimate goal of that principle. It is an attitude that stands in the way of true Brotherhood. Brotherhood toward all humanity.

This insight does not exist in the older Brotherhood ceremonies. They view the principle of Brotherhood as our relationships to each other in the Order.

The Brotherhood Ceremony of 2014 was the first to recognize that the principle of Brotherhood requires us to reach out to others outside of our own culture. And thus to accept others as brothers and sisters regardless of race, creed, color, or gender. But it still limits the definition of Brotherhood to those in the Order.

We of the GIED propose to carry this enlightened view further, beyond the limits of those who share the Obligation.

We of the Order of the Arrow do not seek to keep our experiences and insights to ourselves. Rather, our objective is to spread our positive (Cheerful) attitude toward helping others (Service) first and foremost to our Scout unit, and ultimately to all mankind. We understand that our happiness arises out of making others happy. In the words of an obsolete Brotherhood ceremony (which we can quote to Ordeal members as the words no longer appear in any active text): “To accept the Arrow … as a token of my responsibility to point out to others a way of real happiness and success in life.”

Our principle of Brotherhood urges us to see all as Brothers and Sisters, to offer Brotherhood to everyone we meet in life. An essential part of carrying to others our other two principles, Cheerfulness and Service.

The Elangomat method teaches us to spread our positive attitude toward the principles of Scouting and the Order by participation, not preaching. Which requires us to treat all others as friends (which is the literal meaning of the word Elangomat) and as kin (just as each Elangomat treats their candidates as the Brothers and Sisters they will become when they complete their Ordeal).

Consider: what then is the true meaning of our Admonition?

We have crafted a way to spread this fresh perspective in version 42 of our proposed membership ceremony, through story and symbol, in the Brotherhood portion of the ceremony.

Below is a link to a download of that portion of our proposed membership ceremony that speaks to the meaning of the principle of Brotherhood. Since a portion of the action described (although not the words) is a part of the current Brotherhood ceremony, we recommend that those who have not obtained the Brotherhood Honor should wait until then to read the document.

Download: Proposed New Meaning of principle of Brotherhood in OA Membership Ceremony

But everyone, Ordeal Honor, Brotherhood Honor, Vigil Honor, and everyone else in the world, can consider whether the highest meaning of Brotherhood is an exclusive clique or a love for all humankind.

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