Grand Master's Message - Am I the problem, or part of the solution ?
From MWGM Lewis R. Brent, GL Arizona
Too much blood, sweat, and tears has been shed by generations of Brothers, Sons, Fathers, and friends to let our fraternity slide into infamy. The change begins with leadership and commitment at all levels (Grand Lodge to Subordinate Lodge, Officers to members of the craft).
To our Worshipful Masters and Wardens I say confidence and concerted efforts are the core elements of leadership that must be exercised, or we wind up with complacency and corruption. By corruption I do not mean illegality as much as the corruption of the ideals inculcated in our Masonic Principles, Tenets, Customs, and Lectures. What is happening in our lodges is that there are not enough Masonic teachings, community relations, or brotherhood being practiced. We are constantly begging members to assume leadership roles, support fundraising activities, and/or participate in approved projects. This should not be!
The Laws and Customs of Masonry gives Worshipful Masters and Lodge officers awesome powers and prerogatives over the membership, however it is not a dictatorship. The brethren maintain control by using their voice through the Ballot Box to put in office those they perceive as capable to lead; but more importantly they select/elect brethren they are willing to follow. It does no one any good to put individuals in office we will not support. This system of “checks and balances” has worked from time immemorial, and will work now if properly applied.
We must aspire to inspire those in our ranks to give an honest effort towards sustaining our organization, or we will expire as a fraternity, losing a very important element of our society that has had a definite impact on the fabric of ours and the community’s lifestyles.
What is a Mason is a question often asked by many? The correct answer to those that ask requires all of our attention and skills. The leadership, from the Grand Master down to the Worshipful Masters, Wardens, Lecturers, and anyone who has a hand in molding our brethren into valued members must do the research, know the law, practice the craft and provide a satisfactory answer to the question. Remember that the PROFANE entering this fraternity receives their first true understanding of what he is undertaking in the Ante-room awaiting admission into the Lodge. Our demeanor and actions will set the stage for this important event, and its life-long consequences. OBLIGATIONS, PENALTIES, SECRETS, and VIRTUES are integral parts of our fraternity that apply to each of us, and are often violated or misunderstood. For example, the OB is an implied binding force in a Mason’s life, but the Penalties of the OB are not literal as the true obligation of a Mason is to “obey the Moral Law.” We teach the Four Cardinal Virtues, which actually number seven (Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude, Justice, Faith, Hope, and Love) in Masonry, and serve as worthy guides to our conduct and responsibilities as citizens.
Freemasonry is not classified as a major institution of society, however since we are from all walks of life, cross racial, ethnic, religious, and political boundaries we can have a definite and profound impact in our surrounding if we pull in one direction. We should be teaching and practicing those rules and maxims inculcated in the several lectures and historical practices, thereby enforcing by precept (instruction), and example (demonstration), the tenet of the order. Role models and heroes are overused and misused terms, but because they have resonance in modern society we as Masons can take these terms and try to be of character, fairness, and sincerity resulting in others wanting to follow in our footsteps.
I will close with the following reminder!
TEN WAYS TO KILL A FRATERNITY –
1. Always have something else to do when Lodge meeting time comes
2. If you attend a meeting, be sure to find fault with officers and fellow members
3. Refuse to hold office, as it is easier to criticize than to be criticized
4. Get sore if you are not put in charge or on a committee
5. If put on a committee, don’t do the job
6. If the Worshipful Master ask for opinions, keep silent but later tell others what should have been done
7. When a few brothers roll up their sleeves to help things work smoothly, disparage it be calling it a CLIQUE running the Lodge.
8. Stick to telling what you have done in the past for the Lodge, and never look to the future
9. Delay paying dues and assessments as long as possible, or don’t pay dues or support Lodge activities at all
10. Never bother about getting new members, let others do it
If you see any of these in yourself remember, let PRUDENCE direct you, TEMPERANCE chasten you, FORTITUDE support you, and JUSTICE be the guide in all your actions.
Are you the problem, or part of the solution???????
Reprinted by kind permission of Lewis R. Brent,
Most Worshipful Grand Master
of Grand Lodge Of Arizona