A Good Reputation

Don’s Diary

There would be few among us who do not warm to Bro Robbie Burn’s lines:

“Rank is but the guinea stamp

The man’s the gold for all that.”

Unsurprisingly, it is consistent with the masonic view that although distinctions among men are necessary to preserve subordination, let us not forget that we are all brothers.

However, reputation is another dimension that is not necessarily reflected in rank. Its dimensions do not only apply to individuals but also to organisations including lodges: a bad one can tarnish their “brands”, a good one enhance it. What would have Bro Robbie have said in his earthy eloquence about good reputations?

Some of our readers who stil

l champion Chairman Mao and his methods might like: “Reputation is as fragile as maidenhood in a whorehouse.” Others conscience of recent national events might like: “Reputation is like a mirage: the closer you get the lack of substance is evident”, or “A reputation is strong while hopes are high”, or “Reputation is like a shadow: it is the substance that matters.”

Others who want to look to the future might like:

“Do not be daunted by the prospect of failure

Nor blinded by hope

Seek the substance rather embrace the veneer of reputation.”

A good reputation can be hard to earn but recent appointees will usually enjoy a period bliss because those that appoint them will want them to succeed – their reputation is at stake. The appointees will symbolise the hopes of the organisation. Well chosen, they will not bring any “baggage” with them, involvement in past mistakes or unpleasantness. This is one of the reasons why external recruiting can have such appeal. It is not as easy to achieve in positions that are subject to general elections because the same old faces are there and more often than not the same ideas.

However, a good reputation can be lost by a single deed particularly when surrounded by lean and hungry men. Remember the fate of Caesar. From our journey in Freemasonry we might think that a reputation of being a just and upright man with high integrity is enough but clearly this is not always the case.

Reputation alone is not enough and in the long run, (if one is allowed to survive that long): it is character and substance that matters. People should look through the veneer of reputation and novelty and be satisfied the individual has the necessary values and can perform the tasks required. We should look for a demonstrated performance capability particularly when reputation has been rewarded by rank. Some tasks in Freemasonry and in high public offices judgments from behind the mirage or the veneer of a reputation will not serve us well.

No fool’s gold (or fools) under the guinea stamp for me!

Yours fraternally