Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
PGM Rick Boyles is a regular contributor of articles for our DMC Newsletter. I am delighted to pass along to you Rick’s latest offering. As always, Rick offers food for thought.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Institutionalized for the Status Quo
Perhaps the greatest quality all of us have is the ability to speak our own minds. All of us may have divergent opinions. Unfortunately, many of us in our order are elderly which therefore may mean that many may have a predilection for the status quo. I believe, though, that the best of us can resist the impulse to adhere to the straight and narrow and speak our own minds at the very least occasionally What do we lose by doing so? Answer, nothing whatsoever. The greatest thing we have as Americans is our ability to be ourselves. No dictator can expect to exist within a proper democracy. If a dictator did exist, by default, democracy as a pure political path would cease to exist. Of course, the desire to wax nostalgic is strong. Joe Klein of Time Magazine notes that all candidates this year are playing on our nostalgia for yesteryear but of course, repeating the past perfectly is absurd and really not possible. Plus when we look at the past we only see the high points and somehow obscure the low ones. Example: The fifties are a much revered decade for family values and the cost of living, but would we want to revisit the McCarthy era or the Korean War, or any of the other less desirable events?
Sovereign Grand Lodge, whose primary goal is the order’s survival, must encourage both the status quo and evolution at the same time. How does this occur? It can only occur by realizing that both must co-exist. Our ritual, for example, as the purported guide for a normal meeting, is currently being re-vamped for the purpose of making meetings more efficient and less ponderous. Clearly, a meeting must be held by a lodge in order to express the thoughts and events of a lodge, but meetings shouldn’t be just a dirge of rote memory and a mumbling of the same old words. If we as an order are going to grow, we have to loosen the strings of boredom and tireless chanting that seems to accompany in particular the elderly in our lodges. To note one example, at an official visit I recently attended by a statewide officer virtually every person in the lodge hall was introduced for one reason or another. While this seems polite, it also helps to illuminate how thin our ranks are becoming. Clearly we need to admire our prominent members, but if every member is to be applauded at every event, aren’t we emphasizing our own inadequacies? Introductions at lodge functions years ago were meant where 10 prominent members were introduced to 200 attendees. If we have ten members in attendance, is it really necessary to introduce all ten? Clearly a nice gesture, but we need to streamline not draw everything out.
We also have to see that the elderly feel that sameness is a comforting blanket beneath which they cloak themselves. Yet, in my travels to Sovereign Grand Lodge and lodges throughout our own great state, I see the walking wounded moving ever slower, some dying yearly, and still failing to realize that change must come before we all drop off completely. One of our major sectors of our order lost 10% of their lodges last year. Isn’t it high time to react? We all talk about getting the young to join our order, but how does one accomplish this when even the middle-aged find our order loathsome or at the very least impossible to be a part of? We have to streamline things to make them accessible to everyone. We have to make what we are appealing. It is not about a certain member winning a particular election, or a set of warring factions laying bare to a clash of personalities. Too many people think that if they are allowed to serve one year in a position of authority that somehow all things will change. This will not affect change. Change and evolution comes thru us all of us embracing change and evolution, not by someone standing at a bully pulpit. Bully pulpits go away, as we all will sooner or later go away. Change only comes in our own minds. Nothing can be gained by force. When I was Grand Master, what I noticed most of all was how fleeting the time was. Our order is long-standing, and our individual time is short. To even belittle myself, change will not come because Rick or anyone else demands it. Change will only come if we all accept it.
We also have to study not only why don’t members join our order, but why do members leave our order constantly as well? I can tell you in my opinion that many lodges are awfully boring, and many constrict their own members from having individual thoughts or emotions. We are compelled by nothing. Sovereign Grand Lodge has no right or privilege to pass edicts such as thou shalt only deal in the same old tired “fundraisers” or traditional tiresome events. We need to embrace the new and the different and stop acting like the 53rd Annual Bobbing for Apples event (or similarly insipid event) is somehow gathering new members. Nothing is wrong with a traditional event, but if it has failed to attract new members for 52 years it should be obvious that it is not going to suddenly seem fresh. Many lodges have in effect institutionalized their own boredom. The successful lodges encourage new events, new thoughts, and a more modern view to life. I have several times discussed with older members how they feel that if we somehow give the signs accurately or read the ritual as clear as a bell that new members will arise out of the woodwork. That will not happen. It’s time to see the world as it is today and wake up and look outside. How does our garden grow? Simple, it grows by exposing ourselves to the light of day.
In Friendship, Love and Truth, Rick Boyles