My Brothers, as things progress my first priority is the health of our Fraternity.
I know a little bit about how this works. I had diabetes and had to get it under control. I did. Then I thought I was out of the woods. Then, last fall I found out I have arterial disease, had an operation and am now fighting that battle. Just stay positive, have faith in the Lord, and move ahead. PGM Dennis Siewert always reminds me that aging is not for the weak, nor is it for the negative.
The same holds true for our beloved Fraternity. Masonry’s health is affected by two major observable factors. They are, in my opinion, similar to those major functions of our own health. The number one factor in our individual health is our attitude the second is action appropriate to whatever comes up. The same holds true of our Fraternity. First, let us consider the issue of attitude. The attitudes of the Brothers make up the collective attitude of each Lodge. Some individual attitudes may be negative, but if the lodge is to thrive it must reflect an overall positive stance. Lodge leaders must straighten out the nay-sayers and promote the positive voices. Let our young Masons find their successes within the Lodge. Those attitudes we promote become reality in terms of how we choose to practice Brotherhood, how we do our ritual, how we care for new Brothers and our Lodge Buildings, and finally, how we work together. To that end, we have been working for several years on strategic plans at the Grand Lodge level. Lodges need to be thinking of their own health goals on a long-range basis. Once you have had that discussion you can flex to everyday things that come up. The lodge can decide what it wants to do better and when. That is the snapshot of the Lodge’s health.
We have a responsibility to talk about these things as Brothers. Leadership has to keep Lodges from developing personalities like the old guy that sits around in front of the TV with one foot in the grave dreaming up new pains saying, “Oh poor me!”
How that sounds in lodges is “why we can’t get members” or “nobody can read or memorize this cipher”. How it looks is like officers with books or notes open during opening and closing. It also looks like a lodge building floor or bathrooms that haven’t been cleaned. It tastes like a lodge that keeps chewing over the same old stale things and still takes the time to vote on paying every bill rather than have an interesting program. It smells stagnant like a lodge that has not raised a Mason for a year. The first hurdle for good Lodge health is the attitude.
Next, is how we choose to react to the problems as they are revealed. This is not easy. I had to address my weight, my exercise levels, and my diet to get control of diabetes when that condition knocked on my door. That took drastic action and I did what was necessary. It was not easy and represented a big change! Life was not as it had been. I have not had a donut or cup of ice cream in twelve years. Truth is, in the end, life is a lot better. If I had failed to make those changes, the result would have been fast deterioration and an early grave.
When a lodge realizes it is confronted with the condition of declining membership the Brothers need to make a joint commitment to address how to find new friends to make into Brothers. Then they must take steps to ensure an adequate supply of quality young men to turn the tide and make the positive growth sustainable. They need to put together the necessary assets to present quality degree work and mentor every new mason. Then the Lodge needs to commit to make the experience worthwhile, thus retaining good Brothers. It is not easy. It will be a big change, but all for the good. The alternative if the Lodge fails to take the cure, is fast deterioration and an early grave.
So, my Brothers, I am asking that you stand with me and with every Brother who loves his Lodge and our Gentle Craft. Take action and be willing to change. We must be willing to do so because we want to see Masonry continue to make this world a better place. We will make our Lodges better places. We can do it with the same set of skills that will let us live more healthful lives. Positive attitude backed up with well-planned positive action will assure that our grandsons and great-grandsons have this magnificent platform to continue to shape a more perfect world.
Tell me about what you‘re doing when I come to see you. That way we can share today and build tomorrow, together.