The Gentleman In The Room

By Junior Grand Warden David R. Ritchie

This year 2020 something special happens that only occurs every four years. The Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo this summer. This is usually a topic that fills our discussions around the water cooler as well as the headlines for months in advance. Human achievement. Nations coming together peacefully. The triumphs of the human spirit. Where is that conversation this year? Where are the headlines? Of course, this year it seems like the only topic of discussion is politics. With the upcoming election, political ads are starting to come out. As Masons we all know that two things are prohibited from being talked about in lodge. Religion and politics. Every gentleman knows there are three topics that should never be publicly discussed. Religion, politics, and money. The problem is, “what defines pol-
itics?” At one time this was a very clear topic with defined boundaries. Today, sadly, we are divided along so many lines that it is difficult even to agree upon a definition of what constitutes politics. Schools and education, hunting, the weather, etc . . . If someone had told me twenty years ago that the NFL would be a politically charged topic I would have laughed. If America could withstand the Designated Hitter in baseball the NFL would never create controversy.
So, if a man talks about the strange weather we are having, is he making a political statement?

This is where I call on you to be the gentleman. First, please, understand a person may not consider a topic political, like the weather, and is just making conversation. Consider what would happen if that person were admonished, especially in public, because you or another considered the topic too controversial. If the subject was brought up to spark controversy and you admonish, especially forcefully, it is easy to see how emotions and tensions would escalate. So please give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Confrontation is only going to make matters worse. Have
you ever made a statement and expecting a reply heard only crickets? Sometimes your silence can be the strongest admonishment. If as Master or Mentor you feel the person’s statements need to be addressed. Do so respecting the harmony and brotherly love expected in lodge. Find a private place and moment to speak with the person.

Outside of Lodge remember that you are the greatest symbol of Freemasonry your friends, coworkers, and neighbors know. While it is our right, and duty, to enter into discussions on affairs of state. While you may be called upon to defend your beliefs. While you may feel the other person is ethically or morally wrong remember that people will be listening and watching. Will they see a Mason discussing rationally and without personal attack? Will they hear a
Mason speaking his mind without anger or malice? Remember who you are and what you have been taught.

Remember who you represent in the eyes of society. Speak your mind, enter into civil debate, challenge the statements of others but as a gentleman and Mason. By all predictions, 2020 will not be an easy year for our nation or society. Will you be part of the solution by taking the higher road or part of the problem and helping to swell society’s anger? As for me my eyes will be on the young men and women who through their hard work and skill are representing the greatest country on Earth in a pageant meant to foster world peace. If the US isn’t competing, I will be rooting for the underdog. Yes, the Tokyo Olympics is just a big sporting event but like Masonry it represents the best of humanity. A stage for those who are a cut above and strive to better themselves just a bit each day.