The Pub Test

Don’s Diary

The need for wisdom and judgement in our fraternity did not escape our predecessors. They prayed that even the lowliest ranking leader in the Craft should have wisdom to comprehend and judgment to define. Clearly, a high level of these attributes is expected as one ascends the pyramid of power. Their decisions need to “pass the pub test”: simple, common sense and readily accepted through the whole Lodge or Craft.

At about the time my enjoyable and informative year ended with a Grand Team, a very senior past Grand Officer said to me “If you really ambitious you should join xxxx Lodge and I would be prepared to propose you.” I was grateful for and flattered by his interest but I took the matter no further. I did not, and still do not consider our fraternity as a career; an organisation to enhance one’s social standing or to provide a status that many would never enjoy in the normal course of events. It was a closed lodge and its members must have been able to display professional management and leadership capabilities at some stage in their working lives. However, I asked myself how such a lodge could help anyone achieve the higher levels essentially for personal aggrandisement. We are all supposed to be brothers, sprung from the same stock, etc. Never the less, he was right – many of its members seemed to rise to eminence, as we say, by something else other than merit.

Passing the pub test depends on what sort of establishment you are contemplating. I envisage an old-fashioned style pub where you can freely breast the bar without being harassed to a table and or having little or no opportunity to fraternise. It is where there is a good cross section of society. It is where a group at the bar, providing they are inoffensive, need not be too concerned about politically correctness. It is where if any ladies present they are not too “precious” and will overlook a man’s minor indiscretions. In such an establishment, you will rudely know if a pub test fails.

In some pubs in the yuppie inner suburbs the test might erroneously pass. They are those whose social intercourse is constrained by the presence of gaming machines or seating at dining tables served from pretentious overpriced blackboard menus that only the nouveau riche can easily afford. (It is the sort of pub to be located near the ABC headquarters in Ultimo, Sydney and patronized by its high paid staff – no wonder an ABC pub test seems never to be tried or if it is, it never fails.)

Lodges can be like pubs as sounding boards but they need to be egalitarian lodges such as our Lodge Devotion. Any lodge or committee, etc is an unlikely sounding board whose members think of themselves as being “exclusive”, particularly if real merit is absent and “group think” has set in. It is worse if this lodge emulating xxxx Lodge in trying to exercise a high level of power and influence. It is exacerbated if there is patronage of an individual particularly in an organisation vulnerable to authoritarianism. The “pub test” in such a lodge will not be an accurate reflection of the fraternity’s acceptance of a decision, one that may involve more than just the issue of guilt or innocence because in the past our leaders have also set and demanded a high moral standard for emulation.

If a pub test put properly fails there needs to be a focus on how to recover. Closing ranks can just indicate obstinacy. Recovery may require a contract for a service to be re-tendered, policy change or an alteration in leadership style or selection. If it involves the appointment of an individual he or she should stand aside and applications re-opened for the organisation (or fraternity) should always be bigger than an individual: if this is not recognised they are not the sort of person required anyway.

A leader has a mistaken belief if they think acquiescence constitutes loyalty or respect.

Yours fraternally, Don Paterson