Boldness be my Friend

Don’s Diary - Boldness be my Friend

It often used to be said that you get out of Freemasonry what you put into it. It’s a sort of “feel good” statement that is readily accepted but perhaps not fully understood.

There seems to be two dimensions. First, one’s attitude behaviour and performance of duties within the fraternity; especially in the lodge room and at the festive board. Second, what you do to further the objectives of Freemasonry. A full and active participation in both seem to be essential for a complete enjoyment of the Craft. Nevertheless, there are brethren who are critical of the Craft who are not, and have never been, fully engaged. They see their lack of enjoyment as being everybody else’s fault but not their own.

Attributes such as being happy and communicating happiness to others, and high integrity are “givens” among Freemasons and they are included in our instruction. So is the natural courtesy expected of men of quality. However, conformity with these requirements alone can result in a very passive outlook. What we need are brethren who are team players, are also optimistic, enthusiastic, energetic, resilient, and willing to have a go.

It feels good being around people like this and they are the sort who have a vision for Freemasonry and get things done. People like this are unlikely to have a high sense of entitlement. They will see themselves as the person who has to take initiatives for improvements, to build bridges, and bring their brethren along with them. They will recognise when it is necessary to change their attitudes, behaviour, appearance and all the other things necessary to be a good Freemason and with that the happiness and satisfaction that follows.

We also need brethren like this because optimism, enthusiasm, energy, resilience and courage are the ingredients to move forward and to achieve objectives. They will be unlikely to be constrained by the precedent of what used to be done in Freemasonry or the limitations of past objectives and practices. The desirable attitudes are not constrained by age, however, they will be unlikely to be held by a lot of grumpy old Past Masters who might be happier in another organization or by younger Freemasons who have not been encouraged to participate fully and develop in a lodge. These latter groups are consequently likely to enjoy less reciprocity from Freemasonry than their forward looking brethren.

The “knockers” in our fraternity will oppose initiatives perhaps saying that they are examples of “The triumph of hope over experience” (Samuel Johnston, 1791, in writing on marriage). I would rather the enthusiasts say “Boldness be my friend” from Cymbeline, scene vi, Shakespeare, 1611, when Lachimo said:

Boldness be my friend!

Arm me, audacity, from head to foot.”

To steal a line from JFK, we should be asking not what Freemasonry can do for me but what can I do for Freemasonry.

Yours fraternally, Don