Why do we elect to suffer poor leadership?

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by Ashton Lawson, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. Ashton Lawson

    Ashton Lawson Premium Member

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    This post was originally a response I made in regards to a question concerning leadership in lodges over in the Voting Booth forum. I felt that it made a good point in terms of why we find ourselves asking, "where have all the good men gone," especially in regards to leadership in the lodge; and I wanted to hear what others had to say on the subject. I wrote this with a US-centric message, but I fear it probably transcends our Continent.

    We do it in my opinion, because as a nation and a people, our collective conscience has been dramatically diminished since our founding. Our collective patience is terribly short, and our collective desire for instant gratification is wildly out of control. As the collective conscience has diminished, all aspects of our society have been diminished, notably including our appreciation and respect for the value of earned reward and natural authority.

    One of the principle beauties of freedom is that it gives total latitude to persons who hold a high level of morality, and thus high conscience. When the collective conscience of a society is diminished, there is no alternative to enforcing high morality than through increased tyranny in the manner of heavier handed laws. With increased laws comes increased enforcement, and as enforcement is increased a people's respect for natural authority becomes diminished due to the pressure they feel from unnatural authority in the form of heavy-handed government. As the laws continue to increase, freedom decreases, and people lose sight of the purpose of laws in the first place, which are to establish and uphold the accepted standards or collective conscience of society. We have become a society who no longer upholds its own standards of morality, has lost its conscience, and instead relies on tyranny and law enforcement to set the standards of moral authority. Anything within these boundaries becomes acceptable, and respect for self-driven morality loses meaning. As it loses meaning, appreciation and respect for naturally earned authority no longer holds much meaning, and public perception of high morality becomes skewed to mean nothing more than "law-abiding."

    A people with a strong conscience inherently know right from wrong, and with or without laws they will respect the natural order of things and maintain themselves as productive "law-abiding" citizens. When this collective conscience is diminished, the inherent ability to differentiate between right and wrong begins to fade away, and those who subscribe to a higher system of values are no longer respected and elevated, but cast down and made light of. This happens because it is an unwelcome reflection of the shortcomings of the collective conscience itself. When those who would (due to their high conscience and high morality) naturally be in authority are no longer respected and elevated to their rightful place as leaders, we look instead to leaders who fit our diminished standard of leadership, which is simply law-abiding members who stay within the boundaries of the tyranny of laws that we have struck up to stand in the place of morality and conscience.

    A society with a diminished conscience no longer has the ability to recognize the priceless value of persons who abide a standard of high morality and high conscience. We look to the WWII Generation and inherently realize they are among the Greatest Generations of Americans, but we collectively lack the will and conscience to understand why they earned that title, and thus pursue our own modern great society molded after theirs. Theirs was a society with a remarkable height of collective conscience, and great leaders and men and women of integrity were produced by the millions as a result of this high level of morality and collective conscience. Ours is a society with few, if any of their qualities, and as such the collective conscience is in the sewer.

    Society today has a greatly diminished collective conscience, and as a result it produces from its loins too few men who possess a high conscience and high degree of inherent natural morality. Thus, to the downfall of us all, including in our own lodges, there are very few natural leaders among us to be elevated into their naturally earned places of authority. Men of this type do not typically seek out high office, rather they are elevated to these offices by those who recognize, respect, and appreciate the value of their existence. Sadly, one of the most devastating outcomes of a dimished collective conscience is the inability of the collective to even recognize men of high conscience and high morality among us. Instead we are content to be lead by leaders with little natural or earned ability with whom we have a few things in common, as it gives us the ability to ignore our own shortcomings, and thus justify our own low standards of conscience and morality. A diminished collective conscience, even in our lodges, makes it easier to keep the bar low because a diminished conscience is one that doesn't appreciate the value of hard work, earned reward, and delayed gratification. Diminished conscience doesn't recognize the inherent qualities that are necessary for quality leadership, and settles instead for the status quo, or worse. It is a diminished conscience that fears the reproach of direction, and the hand of guidance that will right the listing ship.

    Unless there is a dramatic increase in the collective conscience of society, our lodge membership roles will continue to decrease, and the yield of men possessing inherent natural qualities of high conscience and morality will continue to follow suit...

    Sorry for the long winded post...but this is a topic that is near to my heart, and one that genuinely disturbs me as a man, as a father, and as a Mason.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 3, 2010
  2. PeterLT

    PeterLT Premium Member

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    Wonderful post! I enjoyed reading it because it touches much in relatively few words. When you speak of the WW2 generation, the “Greatest†generation, we are looking at history and the effects of the times on the people who lived it. The world was a much smaller place back then and what are now condemned as “right wingâ€, too extreme, “racistâ€, “Christian Fundamentalist†or other colorful colloquialisms, were what life was about back then. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness meant different things then. Strict family values were normal, families lived in the same town or neighborhoods (often for generations), religion was an important part of life and the clergy played a vital part in the moral fabric of a community. There was a greater sense of belonging.

    Not wishing to sound too nostalgic, right and wrong was clearer then. Gratification from achievement took time to get, there was no instant anything, except maybe coffee. News traveled slow and folks trusted their elected representatives because they knew many of them personally. When people acted, even on a global perspective such as WW2, they did so out of a sense of duty to one another locally. “I won’t allow Hitler to goose step in Muncie! No way!â€

    After the war, during the boom of the 50’s and 60’s, liberalism started to infiltrate society at about the same pace as technology. What was right before applied to the individual’s responsibilities to the collective. Over time this was replaced by the responsibility of the collective to the individual and the individual’s responsibility only to himself (screw the collective). We are now at the apex of that way of thinking, “If it doesn’t benefit me now, then no way. I don’t care what everyone else thinks.†This is commonplace thinking at every level.

    The rise and fall of fraternalism has also followed this trend and now we are seeing the decline in membership as the greatest generation dies off. What remains is much of the “me†way of thinking. We also suffer from the byproduct of the “me-think†which is apathy. Why should I do xyz when someone else will? Unfortunately, when that becomes the norm, nothing gets done. We are in the midst of a crisis in the Craft that seems to bewilder and confuse those who are in responsibility.

    A few weeks ago I attended Grand Lodge in my jurisdiction. There were three candidates for Grand Junior Warden, the one elected will eventually be the Grand Master. They each had an opportunity to state their case as to why one would be the better choice over the other but before that there were reports by the Grand Secretary and the Grand Treasurer. Both reports bemoaned declining membership, falling dues revenues, failed programs, retention problems and so on. Very heady and depressing stuff; we are having problems and they must be addressed head on. When the GJW hopefuls gave their speeches, apart from personal qualifications, they all said the same thing, that they would continue the policies of their predecessors. I was dumbfounded.

    But this is common throughout the Craft! Apathy and “stay the course†is the norm and unless the younger Brethren grab the reins and give the old horse a good slap, I think things will get far worse before they get better.

    But there is hope…

    There is hope because young men such as yourself and Brother Blake Bowden recognize the need to step forward. The younger generation is slowly realizing the importance of the Greatest Generation’s morals and ideals and through them the Craft (and society) will survive and flourish. Freemasonry has been through far worse in it’s history than liberalism can dish out. Being an individual oblivious to the greater need is fine but it’s also pretty lonely, the younger generation is seeking much more and the Craft can and does fill the need.

    Just as an asides, when I speak of liberalism I don’t mean politics (although it could be a part of it), what I am referring to is the role of the individual in society.

    Well, I had hoped to be brief…sorry about that.
     
  3. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    Two excellent posts, Brethren!
     
  4. owls84

    owls84 Moderator Premium Member

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    The problem is we younger guys have to fight teeth and nail for EVERY inch. Why does it have to be that way? We are being elected into offices but not allowed to make any changes. The ones that do change are being repremanded by Grand Lodge here in Texas. We have proven our methods work and we do not break laws. We have more guys that can teach work and confer degrees than most lodges and we are all young yet our ways are under a microscope every time we do something. So why? Why are we being put through all of this?

    Great posts by the way.
     
  5. PeterLT

    PeterLT Premium Member

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    I had a conversation with our new Grand Master about just that issue and he mentioned that it is a common issue across the continent. I, as the Master of my lodge, and he as the Grand Master came to the same conclusion.

    There haven't been enough funerals yet for the Craft to make the unbelievably necessary changes it needs to make in this millennium. Sometimes people forget that in life no one gets out of here alive.

    As you can see from a study of the history of Freemasonry, change is slow and usually comes after applying the last shovelful on the old guard. Sad, but true.

    We all have to do our best to make sure the Craft moves on after us and that very often means passing the torch to stronger, younger hands even tho we may not be ready or willing to do so. So hang in there, your day will come. Each has his role to play, and each will, like it or not.
     
  6. owls84

    owls84 Moderator Premium Member

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    But the waiting on funerals is killing Freemasonry because a lot of good men are not willing to wait. And from a personal stance I see the older guys breeding new men with their views that are filling those positions. It is a vicious cycle that does not have to happen.
     
  7. HKTidwell

    HKTidwell Premium Member

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    And that is why we have balloting, to stop the vicious cycles.
     
  8. PeterLT

    PeterLT Premium Member

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    The difference is that although the older guys are stuck in 1969, the fellows coming up through the chairs know that they will accomplish nothing by butting heads with the old guard. Slow and steady takes the prize as it always has in the Craft. There will come a day when even the most headstrong resisters to change will have to bend or die. Now I don't advocate tossing the Landmarks out the window but there are things that can be done to make the craft more relevant in today's society. Examples of which are this forum and the many Masonic blogs out there. They will shape popular opinion in the Craft as never before.

    Don't think the old guard doesn't read forums such as this one. That they don't participate speaks to their being obstinate but even the most difficult among them know their time is near. Personally, I am very encouraged by what I see happening at the lodge level, people are starting to wake up. At the GL level it will take more time but even they will have to embrace what the new generations offer or face a steady decline.

    Don't give up and to all those reading this, don't be afraid to bitch and let your views known.
     
  9. owls84

    owls84 Moderator Premium Member

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    So mote it be. Well said. I know people read this forum. One reason we will never get Grand Lodge approval is because we will not let them censor post. It was an issue we had to decide early. I believe that is one thing that has made this succeed.
     
  10. David Duke

    David Duke Premium Member

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    This is a very interesting discussion and I must say a very enlightening one. I guess I would be classified as one of the "younger" guys (although at times I don't feel like it!!) and I do see the need for change in our lodges. But the change I see that must be made is in our new members becoming more involved in what is happening in their lodge and make them feel like that they are wanted and needed.

    I myself was raised in 1997 and was very active for the first couple of years but became disenchanted with many things I saw happening and stopped attending. There was not any one thing in particular that caused this but a number of small things such as cliques, favoritism and the guarding of territory; the thing is that to this day I still feel that everyone was wanting to do the right things but were too self rightious to work together to achieve the same ends. I begin attending lodge again in January of last year after about a 10 year absense and although the core group of the lodge remains the same it is a completely different atmosphere and "change" is occuring and not because of the number of funerals although that may be playing a small part.

    What I see happening is that as we mid-life guys mature we are finally understanding that change is occuring all the time and although we we would like to see some dramatic shifts this great fraternity of ours is for self preservation slow to evolve. If the winds of youth were allowed to blow in and change us constantly what would masonry be other than a fad? I understand that we must adapt and make our new members feel relevant but as was stated above in today's world there is the want/need of instant gratification but the basic tenets of our fraternity truth and releif do not and will not change, it is how we, not just our fraternity but society as a whole must realize the value of those tenets and teach them to our children that must change.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2010
  11. Hippie19950

    Hippie19950 Premium Member

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    The one thing you are not seeing Brother "Owls", is that in the years past, our early leaders did not get it handed to them right them... It was in the original post. I agree, that we need change. I was prepared to "await the time with patience", but I am already moving to the East. I wanted a longer time to learn more about what WE do. In our Lodge, the "Old Guard" has pretty much passed on.... We DON'T have any NEW guard!!! They did not work on getting anyone in, or keeping any of them active, so here we sit, a small operating Lodge, trying to use what some were taught in the past, and new members (me), trying to learn what was done, and what needs to be done. I am learning, I have an open mind (though some will disagree at times), and I am trying with the help of others (some good, some bad) to make this Lodge alive again. I am hoping my leadership skills from my careers will help guide us through the year. We have a couple of younger Brothers who are following me, and I hope some of these skills will be noticed by them, and we can continue to grow. Otherwise, we will once again die off. I Sgt. in the USAF. I have been a Sgt. in Law Enforcement, as well as Chief of Police. I supervised an EMS group, and was able to make sure things ran smooth, and everyone had training needed, and actually worked together to make the units work. Can I do it with our Lodge??? I don't know, but we have a Brother on here, who has answered every call I have put out for help, and I greatly appreciate his efforts. I will be calling on him a lot this next year, and I hope he doesn't mind. We have taken in 3 new EA's, and have two who have decided to come back,and finish their work. We have an FC who is going to finish up. These are all well and good, because we need them. However, if they don't finish their work, or don't learn the true meaning of what we as Freemasons are supposed to be, we have lost out again. I am told not to be too hard or pushy, but of the 3 new one's, none are close to turning in any of their work!! They were initiated in Feb. and March of this year. I know some learn slower, but a couple of these men are in positions of work, that requires them to have a good knowledge, and memory.... I will see how it goes, and will inject things as we go along. I will also ask for ideas, and guidance as I go along. This is what I have learned helps the best. At any rate, none of our Lodges are exactly the same, and have to be dealt with differently. I do not always agree with things that we are told, or things we discuss here, or even that a majority deems to be best, but if it is for the good of Masonry, I will do it (grumbling sometimes), but I want ALL our Lodges to be alive, and happy.

    Bro. Bill Lins, keep that cell phone charged up this year!!!
     
  12. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    Aye, aye, Bro. Hippie! :wink: And- for any other Brother whom would like to get ahold of me, my contact information is listed under District #32 in the Grand Master's Directory, or pm me here.
     
  13. owls84

    owls84 Moderator Premium Member

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    Brother Paul, I could not understand more. I do. My question though is while it is needed to fill the chair now what is to stop you and two or three others stepping in and rotating the east? Bring people in and do what needs to be done but by moving someone up or to the East just because it is their turn is doing nothing for us. Why does it have to be a 4 year journey. If 3 guys did two years (not together) in the east that would buy a Lodge 6 years. By then you should have one more ready to go by then. If not then you need to look at your internal officer preparation. I know people are natural leaders but in order to lead you also need to follow and just because your personality is leading that don't mean you can lead a Lodge. I just look at new members that have been in for less than 2 months (This is at my work not my Lodge. They are members of other Lodges) and they already have it mapped out to how many years they have till the East and it worries me. These guys have already been promised the East. It's just wrong. A newly raised Master Mason should be treated as a child. Give him time to mature and soak it all in.
     
  14. Hippie19950

    Hippie19950 Premium Member

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    In my case, I was told it would usually take a Brother "7 years" to get to the East in most Lodges, once they started to "work/move through" the chairs. I figured that would be cool, at least, once I got there, I would know where I was going if I did good. Well, in our Lodge, there aren't enough active MM's to be able to do this.... We have been working to get more in, and to be able to lengthen the chain, but it is slow going. Before this year, the Master was serving two years in a row. I was supposed to go to the W., but the Brother there, is older, and has had a lot of trouble with cancer. The treatments and meds have taken it's toll on his memory. He chose to step aside, and move me forward, it the rest of the Brethren were OK with it. I was actually elected, though by just a few. I have worked, studied, and questioned a lot in the last 2 years. I tried to learn Freemasonry, as well as learn the memory work. I work as much as I can with other Lodges, and Brethren, to get an idea of what they are doing, and what has worked for them. I don't know if I am truly ready, but I am going to give it my VERY best. I also know there are others all around, who will help at any time I ask. I have tried to make good "connections" on my way through. Now, my only question is, how do WE instill this in others who will be in my place, either in my Lodge, or another?? I think those behind me will do good as well, but I also know we have Brothers who will keep them in place, until they are ready to move on in our Lodge. Keep a close eye on the Board, I will be in the S.S. Group with questions from time to time. And as I said earlier, I will have Bro. Bill on Speed Dial, as well as a few others!!! I guess we just have to try to instill good leadership in those we can. I try to let folks know that what we learn in the Lodge, we can apply outside to our lives, as well as our occupations. Even at my age, and in the position I am in with my work, I still have found there are things I have learned through Masonry that I have applied to my life and work, and it has helped me. It's just a "mental thing" for me, but hopefully we can help others on their way UP in life, as well as in the Lodge.

    Hippie...
     

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