During the recent Grand Lodge of Georgia Masonic Leadership Conference, I presented a program about Lodge Renewal. I told the Conference attendees that I do not attend lodge for fellowship or charity or community service, in fact, I do not care about those things. I care about improving myself through Freemasonry. If I present education, I have improved myself and hopefully the brethren who heard me. I had to research, put my thoughts together and prepare to get up in front of the brethren and impart a small bit of knowledge to them. I have done my work, hoping to inspire others to do theirs. Do not get me wrong, it is not that I think that fellowship, charity and community service are not important, it is just that these are not my reasons for being a Mason. These are logical outcomes of Freemasonry, as we improve ourselves, we want to spend time with like-minded brethren, we want to take care of others and serve our communities.
My primary focus is Leadership and Education. I have stated many times that the term Masonic Education is redundant: Masonry IS Education! Without a good program of Masonic Education, Brethren forget the tenets and lessons of the Order, they drift away from the Craft looking for meaningful fulfillment elsewhere. I have had conversations with Brethren from all over the State and it seems like our problems are very similar. I do not have a single idea that will solve all of our problems, but I do have a lot of ideas that will solve many of our problems. The first is, “Do Masonry, it works every time it is tried.” Of course, now you must define for yourself and your Lodge, “What is Freemasonry?” We say it is to make good men better. I say that we give good men the tools to make themselves better. A definition often quoted is, “The design of the Masonic institution is to make its members wiser, better, and consequently happier.” Notice that “wiser” comes first. My basic definition of Freemasonry is that it is an Initiatory Order that teaches lessons of philosophy and morality using the tools of the builder with a focus on labor. None of this comes to you, you must work for it.
I have had brothers that say they want the same thing out of Freemasonry that I do demonstrate extreme negativity when I make suggestions. “That won’t work.” “We can’t get the old guys or the current power structure to do that.” “Let me know when you figure out how to make that happen.” I tell you this; I do not wait for the old guys to agree nor do I buy that something won’t work; at least not until we try. I also know that you cannot try once and quit because you did not get support. I have seen improvements in several lodges in the area based on shared ideas and leadership. I have had discussions with the “old guys” and convinced them not to oppose all ideas. If you cannot describe what you want to do and why, you are probably either not committed or not serious about making change or you have not done your research about what you want to do. If you want huge changes, look at smaller things you can do to move in that direction. I was assigned to a Bylaws Committee; I came to the committee meeting with a fully developed, written plan. Every one of my suggestions was accepted, because no else had done that level of work, and because I only did what was good for the Lodge. But I included adding Masonic Education to the Order of Business; now the WM cannot decide we do not have time, we always have education of some kind at every Regular Communication.
If you want lodge to be more serious, be more serious about lodge. If you want leadership, lead. Don’t sit on the sidelines and accuse those who have accepted positions of leadership of not doing anything. If you want change, be the change.
I am sure that somewhere, someone has labelled me an official “disturber of the peace.”