Development is almost always a good story unlike the tales of exploitation. However, if we are taught to be cautious we need to be careful that exploiters do not adopt the guise of a developer. Freemasons are always exposed to the theme of development as our tools are for construction and the theme of our teachings is the construction of King Solomon’s Temple on the Temple Mount.
In this year of us marking the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of WW1 we might also contemplate the development work of the great WW1 Turkish General and hero, the first President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who was a Muslim and a Freemason. It was the pivotal country in the pre-war Ottoman Empire controlling well the land called Palestine in my childhood Bible and the Middle East, lands now racked with division, hate and war. Turkey is a secular country with Muslims comprising 98 percent of its population.
Turkey is situated on the cross roads of Asia and Europe sharing borders with eight countries. Turkey's growing economy and diplomatic initiatives including leadership in the Muslim world and a member state of the Council of Europe, of NATO, and the G 20 major economies and this has led to its recognition as a regional power. It was very vulnerable to the GFC but like New Zealand, and unlike other countries including our own, the GFC was cleverly and deftly dealt with using monetarist economic policies and it recovered well (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_Friedman) rather than Keynesian economics. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Maynard_Keynes). Consequently, it did not as a result leave Turkey with a very large national debt and New Zealand is in the same position. (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/opinion/policy-matters-we-can-learn-a-thing-or-two-from-kiwis-on-fixing-budget-woes/story-fnc2jivw-1227033714659 Turkey has developed to be an important ally of the West. It is a developing country that lost the war but has won the peace.
We will all be aware of the self styled “Property Developers” who are more often than not just exploiters. Poor management will circum to their advances to release capital with little concern about loss of title and reduced amenity. Freemasons in the past have had good reason to be concerned watching their property assets erode.
We have exploiters who incur large maintenance debts on properties and in their other assets, particularly those they borrow and lease. To them maintenance is a bit akin to alimony: something they are reluctant to pay. Their vehicle maintenance policy is usually just to dispose of on breakdown. Then there are those that do not think their marriage (usually marriages!) require any “maintenance” or even the fulfilment of their obligations of their Vows (they wonder why their marriages fail!). There are also the “Tenants from Hell” who will let a property rundown by their neglect, misuse and carelessness. Forget about any promise of help with the property in lieu of rent: it will never be honoured. The Collingwood Masonic Centre (CMC) was run down until the present management under the control of our new Worshipful Master and his CMC team. Their work has been a major refurbishment and it is a great credit to them all.
Freemasonry needs genuine developers to ensure its future. It needs a return to our former standing in the community. It needs to grow in numbers through recruitment and retention. It needs to penetrate all sections of society including a further penetrate into our Muslim community considering current events. We might discover another Mustafa Kemal Atatürk: we sure need one!