It is disheartening to note that despite the vigor of a major part of our young people, despite the enthusiasm of the host society of the 1961 Convention, and despite the energetic progress of the Federation Board and staff of Beacon Lights, there is not the unity among our young people that there might be. Several churches which could very well furnish a young peoples society either have no society or do have one which is not a participating member in the Federation. The small size of the PRC necessitates the active participation of every possible society as well as that of every young person. It is possible for young people to drift through the first twenty-odd years of their lives without ever committing themselves to the cause of the P.R. youth. Nor will their apathy spell the doom of that cause. But their unconcern (perhaps “moral laziness” is apropos) is a regrettable hindrance to the others as well as a frightening indictment of themselves. Unity is more than the playground of modern theologians and demands more than casual, passive acquiescence on our part. We work for unity, also as young people.
As regards the 1961 Convention, a few suggestions based upon Convention experience. The most maligned segment is the so-called business meetings. The prevailing attitude seems to be that we rush through these meetings with dizzy speed so as to sooner beat it for the boondocks. Delegates and visitors, given the one opportunity to air views and disagreements about society, the Board, and Beacon Lights given the unique chance of discussing closer ties between East and West, given a prime moment to develop the Federation and its magazine into the progressive core of the P.R. young people, arrive at the meeting with their only forethought being a quick adjournment. A hasty perusal of those present produces nominations for officers and voting often occurs on the basis of mere popularity or hastily recalled prejudices. If the Federation is a cause worth its existence – and it is – it is worthy of being headed by young people of sheer ability and sheer diligence. Selection upon any other basis means the corresponding dissolution of the entire organization. The word is “think” and the time is “before-hand.” Perhaps, one who nominates an individual for an office should be required to motivate his nomination. Not in a disruptive, would-be-humorous manner nor in a manner which derogates other candidates but seriously, concisely, and positively. Delegates would do well to remember that young people from outside the Grand Rapids area can be considered. Several young people from Minnesota spend the greater part of the year in Grand Rapids. Nor would it be impossible for a Board member to reside in South Holland or Oak Lawn and travel monthly, perhaps with the South-Holland-Oka Lawn teachers and ministers as they attend seminars, to Grand Rapids for Federation meetings.
One other part of standard Convention procedure which often fails to accomplish its admirable, and necessary, purpose is the get-acquainted-hour. The entire Convention should be a get-acquainted “hour.” Yet, within a definitely designated period we are given license to bluntly approach and become conversive with seldom-seen comrades. The unfortunate truth is that this opportunity has been neglected. It is much easier, much safer, and must less rewarding to cling to our own closely-knit clans. One of my sorriest Convention-recollections concerns my failure to become familiar with a certain appealing fellow. I wanted to get to know him but hesitated to take the first step. So we merely exchanged cool “hello’s” and went our own ways. I will probably never get the chance again. Use the Convention as a rare occasion to form and cement friendships which geography will never nullify. Obey your inclination to rush towards an unfamiliar person. If all act in such a manner there may be a rash of bumped noses but a sore nose among friends is far better than a sound one in solitude. Especially, if the “offending” protuberance turns up to be pertly feminine.