Thursday, March 16, 2006

You knew it was coming

A friend of mine just wrote a post bashing MUN. The thing is, I completely agree with most of his reasons: I find the mutually reinforced aggrandizement rather disturbing, the hypocrisy nauseating, and the patterns of personal favoritism strange. The thing is, I'm not very good at social politics, nor do I pay them much attention. As I've gotten older (I feel like you have to be 55 before you can use those words, but I can't think of replacements right now) I've come to realize how ubiquitous such behavior is -- this has not made me any more willing to pay it heed or to attempt to participate. In my mind, people should get and give credit where it is due; I seem to be fine living with the knowledge that this is often a far cry from reality.

I joined MUN very late in my college career. Even after joining, those negative aspects of the organzation which my friend so loathingly described continued to push me away. The process of deciding to apply as a secretariat was frought with doubts for the same reasons. I didn't know if I would be able to deal.

Now that it's over, this is what I've come to: you have a choice. MUN does not automatically transform all those who enter it into pretentious, snobby, back-stabbing pricks who care little for what the organization can offer to the people who are involved. The personalities of the few who are as such are not that powerful, nor are the personalities of the rest that weak. More importantly: there are larger, more immediate things which MUN stands for and offers. Forgive the soap-box upon which I will stand for a couple of lines, but I truly believe that it is, at the end of the day, about learning and applying yourself, and enabling others to do the same -- whether it is by engaging them in your role as a delegate, presenting them with and guiding them through substance as a secretarait, publishing something, etc etc etc (and the list really is that long). My point is that while there are those who chose to shift their attention away from that, there are others who have refused to do so. I have seen it, and have had the pleasure of working with both types of people.

Yes, pleasure is the right word. Because prior to this, I would have, on principle, refused to work with people who displayed such distasteful character traits. I would have stayed away from the organization as a whole simply for that reason. But, the truth is that I have myself experienced and understood the change that MUN is capable of bringing to people's lives. And I think it would be weak, sad, and shameful to allow a few pricks to keep away people who are talented. (I realize I just grouped myself with the "talented" who will not be kept away; normally I would edit the sentence to restore a semblance of humility to this post, but I'm on a roll and this is the 4th time I've tried to finish writing this).

MUN still has the ablility to serve people, to teach them, and to make them think. And I am completely sure that every year there will be some who are too busy applauding themselves and each other for anyone's liking, or, more dangerously, for them to do their jobs properly. However, I am also sure that there will also be those who go in, learn, teach, work, give credit where it is due, and leave behind an example for the next wave of people to live up to and surpass.