Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Past Grand Master Rick Boyles is a regular contributor to these DMC Newsletters, and has been doing so since its founding in 2010. DMC is focused – like a laser – on one subject: Membership. The efforts of DMC are all about bringing in new members and retaining existing members. In this regard, the DMC Newsletters, over the years, have published hundreds of articles about what we need to do – as an Order and within our individual Lodges – to re-charge, re-invigorate, and re-energize this ancient fraternity. These efforts are all targeted to putting the brakes on the 70-year decline in our membership, and starting to achieve net gains in our Lodges and in the statewide Order. It’s simple – continuing these yearly net losses is just not sustainable. So, we need to change the culture of our Lodges – while retaining the guiding principles of our fraternity. The alternative is the slow demise as existing members withdraw, move away or pass away. Eventually, such trends will cause Lodges to lose their quorums and either consolidate or surrender their charters. We see a net loss of members in our Order every year, and we lose Lodges virtually every year. Can’t keep doing that for much longer!
Rick presents an article which addresses one aspect of this “change of culture”. I commend it to you!
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
How We Win
There is a popular action movie where the two heroes are arguing (of course), and when matters are at their bleakest, one hero says to the other hero “Come on, help us win.” The other hero implored upon to help win is dumbfounded because he is looking at things that seemingly could not become any more hopeless. I sometimes think about this interchange when I am considering how we should view our order. Sometimes it’s important to stand back and see what our goal is in the long run. Clearly, we want more members, but more importantly, what are we all seeking? And conversely, we should take note of some positives along the way. One such big positive is that we are not yet among the large number of ever-growing defunct fraternal groups. That alone should give us hope.
Many of us, to be almost brutally frank, fear new members. You can see this in much of what we do. We have events where outsiders are not invited. Many lodges give out membership forms but when lodge meetings ensue the prospective member is shooed away, for no good reason. This should just illuminate our apprehension at new members. We look at new members as if they are there to change things. But most good people just want to improve upon what is already there. Often times when I interview a prospective new member, they see things more plainly than those of us who have become complacent within our own environment. It is not the new member we fear, it is a different perspective.
First, above all else, we need to remember our wide-reaching precepts: friendship, love, and truth. Friendship seems to me to be painfully absent sometimes, whether in a normal lodge setting, often members berate each other thoughtlessly, or in a more state wide or national setting regarding some sort of truly absurd political wrangling or other misguided goal. I call it misguided because politics in general are not supposed to be a part of our meetings or gatherings as defined within our very ritual. Politics, in particular, is an amazingly temporary setting where each of us are asked to serve in a position for a designated brief period of time, hopefully not upsetting the general applecart, and keeping the general populace as happy as possible.
Love, because sometimes members place pre-defined precursors upon love, modifying our stance because of some myopic view of the order. Love, to me, seems to me by definition to imply an almost blind acceptance of each other, in spite of our differences or perhaps because of them, and not to berate each other for a fiscal, physical, political or philosophical dispute. Most of us have someone within our own lives with whom we share a blind affection, often ignoring a difference of feeling caused by each of us by our very closeness. Love in a lodge requires even more blindness because we will never have in a lodge setting the familiarity that we have in our personal lives, unless we instill this same type of blind affection upon our lodge members that we share at home. Regardless of diversity, sexual orientation, political beliefs, or any of the myriad of views all of us may have, we are all of us brothers and sisters. To me, love means never having to define itself whatsoever.
And truth, of course, is never meant to be a bludgeon but rather a guiding light, a beacon to the future, an illumination by which we must winnow ourselves into tomorrow, without fear, but with a resolute expectation of survival, happy within our own skins and lodges, yet aware that change and happiness is our very rite of passage against the backdrop of the world at large.
How may these words retain their relevance? By realizing their own timelessness, indeed, friendship, love and truth are as much in need today as they were yesterday. We only need to retool them to reflect modern society. While caring for orphans and burying the dead may now seem behind us, the spirit of these acts remain, our members will surely die, but we should not abandon them even in death, and our children will still need care, and it is incumbent upon all of us to care for each other, just as if we are all related, and in the ultimate truth, we are, no matter the time, age, color or point of view. We survive and win by recognizing our own mortality, our own insignificance, and in retrospect, our own import in this wild world.
In Friendship, Love, and Truth, Rick Boyles