A Message from the Grand Treasurer,
I think all of us at one time or another, in some way or another, encountered a situation concerning what we would like our personal preferences to be … or not to be, in this or that situation. Let’s focus some now on how this may pertain to our beloved fraternity. Here are some recurring thoughts I have mulled over for some period of time. If I were to give this article a title, I believe I would lean heavily toward “Personal Petty Preference” or, I like, “PPP” for short. So, how do we know how petty our preferences are, or for that matter, how petty are we becoming? As I list a few examples, take a moment and consider each one. Do you have any of these tendencies? Do you know another brother that leans in some of these directions? Remember also there are different levels of pettiness … some extreme, some to a lesser extent … not so malevolent, but still counterproductive. There are brothers that show up for meetings all the time, but actually, do nothing except explaining how something will not work. It’s as if they are brainstorming in the opposite direction … resisting everything. Could some be holding grudges for some reason or just a little mean-spirited about something in the past? That sounds a little temperamentally unsuitable. Would some try to destroy something if it’s not shaped to their own will, or to a lesser degree just not get behind it because it not their initial idea? Are we growing delusional when there’s competition when Freemasonry is not the winner?
I could go on, but enough negativisms. Let’s look at some basics we are all familiar with … the good stuff. The first verse from the book on the altar a candidate hears in circumambulation concerns working together. “Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. The Senior Warden mentions in the opening and closing rituals in all three degrees, “… peace and harmony being the chief strength and support …” The Chaplin prays for harmony at the opening of every meeting for God to “… enrich of our hearts with Thine own love and goodness that the lodge at this time may humbly reflect that order and beauty reign before Thy Throne.” God’s Throne. There are many others, all we have to do is listen for them.
Let’s look at some basics of where to apply some of these positive concepts. What about as a fraternity of men banded together to further develop themselves ethically to benefit the community at large? What about as harmony prevails so we can continue to grow toward full potential individually and as a group? Actual legitimate problems can grow to fruition rather than grow to even more difficulties. As we begin to put away PPP it’s even easier to open our hearts and minds to the bigger picture of what is best for Freemasonry. What about the cooperating with the brother sitting near you in your own home lodge? What about your lodge and another lodge in the same district? Your lodge and your District lodge? Your lodge and the Grand Lodge? Your district lodge and grand lodge? Appendant bodies?
Consider this personal example concerning myself and another brother back in the past. It was somewhat serious, but somewhat comical. I was asked by an elected Worshipful Master to serve as his appointed Chaplin for the upcoming year. My quick response was, “I don’t like you to begin with.” His more calculated response was, “I don’t like you either, but, that’s not one of the requirements.” Me: “Alright, I’ll accept.” Long story short, we both knew what was best for Freemasonry in this situation and we moved forward.
In closing, as far back as our 1858 Grand Lodge session Brother Albert Pike delivered a lecture entitled: “The Evil Consequences of Schisms and Disputes for Power in Masonry, and of Jealousies and Dissatisfactions between Masonic Rites”. My brethren, freemasonry has undergone many fluxuations in the past concerning growth spurts and declines in our numbers throughout history. Ponder for a moment, which side of the fence do you want to be on? Just in case you may be stuck … straddling is not an option, either. Let’s get back to the basics and stay there. That’s a start. I’m optimistic about the future.
R∴ W∴ Charles R. Smith