Don’s Diary

I always used to like the simple approach with delegations when making appointments and trust our Installation next month will see that put into effect. Determine the responsibilities of the appointment and then ensure that appointee had the necessary power and authority to do the job. However, the concept of a mandate seems to be growing in importance in the public arena.

We may recall that there used to be many mandates or mandated territories which were established under the League of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations Organisation, for de-Colonisation after WW1. The concept of a mandate was in force when we were told as a child “You can, but you may not!” – (I know that you are capable of the action but you are not allowed). A mandate can be an official or authoritative command; an order or injunction; a commission and a judicial precept. It can be a contract by which one employs another to manage any business for him.

How relevant is the concept of a mandate to a brother in the Chair of King Solomon? It certainly seems to be now relevant in political life with all factions either claiming a mandate for certain actions or denying that another party is so empowered. The debate usually centres on promises in the previous election campaign, however, the statements in these are usually so vague that it would be hard to hold anyone to account. Occasionally when something definitive is said that completely changes the situation. A mandate then becomes a licence to act, a constraint on elected power and authority. To proceed without this licence is likely to aggravate those that feel that they have been the victim of a lie. The government of the day has the power to act but without a mandate it is exposed to the wrath of the electorate, often with a long memory. If you are trusted there is less demand for evidence of a mandate.

In Freemasonry, despite the candidate having known thoughts and ideas and even a record of behaviour, as there are no election campaigns for the Chair of King Solomon so a mandate for change cannot be claimed. Therefore, the incumbent cannot to do anything other than that which his predecessors have done in all ages. If something else needs to be done there should be consultation and this must not be confined to some largely unelected or unrepresentative body. Someone worthy of this Chair should have the Wisdom of Solomon and recognise this situation and lead by example bringing his brethren along with him through consultation and building clear consensus and group ownership.

While the concept of a mandate seems a little remote for freemasons, it does not mean that in these days the actions from the Chair of King Solomon will pass without question. We have seen in extreme cases in other sections of society individuals or classes occasionally seeking remedies where there are no statutory provisions, some seeking briefs on a pro bono or success fee basis presumably for the publicity to be enjoyed in high profile cases. In voluntary organisations the effect will be likely to be unhappiness among the members and diminishing numbers.

I am reminded of the quotation: "You can build a throne with bayonets, but you can't sit on it for long". (Boris Yeltsin 1931-2007)

Yours fraternally