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May 24, 2023Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

Good morning MW. Clearly you're right. However there are certain situations in which your very solid logic won't work. The WM who has a bad idea may also labor under the illusion that contradicting him, even in the most friendly manner, is some kind of Masonic offense. That same WM may also suffer the delusion that his highest priority is prosecuting Masonic offenses. Perhaps this is rare but we've both seen it and when it happens there can be long term damage to the Lodge.

Certainly we have to choose our leaders very carefully. "It's his turn" should not be among the selection criteria. And we should train all of our upcoming leaders on something that is only indirectly expressed in our ritual: The most powerful thing a leader can do is to never resort to power."

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Yes, you are certainly correct.

We do have those who will get angry and lash out at the least questioning of their methods or ideas.

We also have those who will gleefully ignore even the best advice.

But I still think that we are doing our part to help the Lodge, and help them, by whispering wise counsel. If they take it poorly, or ignore it, then that is on them and not us.

Ultimately, I wholeheartedly agree. Electing a man because it is his turn has probably done more to harm our Craft than any other of our misguided traditions. We should be electing the best men to lead our Lodges, not overlooking them because it is someone else's turn.

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May 24, 2023Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

Surely by now you must know that I'm not shy about calling balls and strikes. And I try my best not to offend when I do.

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May 24, 2023Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

There is no reason not to tell anyone, let alone a WM, that his “idea” may be lacking in fore thought. There is also no reason to tell the WM his “idea” is a bad one in a manner that would cause a public conflict or embarrassment. I learned a long time ago to praise in public and critique in private.

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Agreed. These discussions are best had in private, whenever possible.

I do think that there are occasions where that is not possible, for example if a Lodge is mishandling money (I don't mean someone is stealing it, but when it is being mishandled) or a Lodge is about to violate an Ancient Landmark, or other truly serious thing that could impact the entire Lodge. In those cases, I think that occasion can demand a public stand so that the Lodge can put a stop to whatever might be going on.

In my own time working with Lodges, I have tried to stick with the idea of praising that which I see as good more than criticizing that which is bad. It doesn't always work, and I'm not perfect so sometimes violate my own method, but for small things I think that can be more positive.

I guess to my mind it depends on the severity of the issue. Least severe, encourage something else that would be better. Middling severe, talk to the Brother in private in order to give wise counsel. Most severe, as in the potential to directly cause serious harm to the Lodge, I feel it has to come to the Lodge as a whole.

Luckily there are very few occasions at which the latter is needed.

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"Bad Idea" is certainly a subjective preposition. I've had (at least to me) plenty of good ideas shouted down because the old guard considered them "bad".

Take, for example, the idea I had during a recent election of officers. I suggested we have a single piece of paper with the five elected positions listed, much like how we vote in our county/state elections now. We wouldn't list the candidates, just a space to write in names. Pass the sheets around, and announce the position we're voting on, everyone writes down a name, then the next, and so on. Speeds up the entire process a little bit as the gathering of votes need only to be done once. Now, I didn't just come up with this idea. I had actually looked at the WMC to find any reason why I couldn't do it that way. There wasn't, as far as I could tell. The only restrictions is that it be by secret ballot and that all master masons that are members of that lodge had to vote. That's it.

But when I suggested it, it was immediately shot down because "I couldn't do it that way".

That was not a hill I was willing to die on, so I let it pass, but I was right.

As I said, bad ideas are subjective. All too often I've seen ideas get shot down (not just mine) because someone doesn't know the code, or what leeway we have in running our lodges. Yes, we should speak up if someone is attempting to do a bad idea, but we need to be aware of the rules first before speaking up.

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May 24, 2023Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

Hey maybe that idea didn’t work in your Lodge but I think we’ll try it in mine. Thanks!

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There you go! Proof once again that by talking about these things here, we can shoot good ideas across our jurisdiction and around the world!

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Oh, yes, I understand exactly what you are saying. We've all seen good ideas get shot all to hell because 'we've always done it that way' or 'the code says' when the code says no such thing.

That is different, I think, than what I am trying to get at with this post.

What I was trying to get at with this post was more along the lines of proper management of funds, public facing PR problems, clear and unequivocal violations of the code. Things of that nature. Even perhaps the bad idea of guys standing up with pleas of 'we've always done it that way.'

My ultimate idea of a terrible idea that was widely adopted by Lodges throughout the United States, leading to a PR disaster that was not recognized for decades:

There is, as all Freemasons know, a wide ranging conspiracy theory, in a multitude of variations, claiming that we are part of a vast network working to control the fate of nations and every individual life on earth.

There is another widely held belief, based on Christian scripture, that in the end times, the mark of the beast will be placed on every individual's body. Conspiracy theorists in modern times have pushed the theory that this will actually be a microchip(s) implanted in the body, by some cabal made up of Freemasons, multinational corporations, those of Jewish ancestry, and tech billionaires.

Some decades ago, leaders of the United States Grand Lodges decided that these conspiracy theories were causing harm to the Craft. So, they decided that we should engage in a big, widely publicized helping endeavor in every big city and small town in the country.

So, they came up with the super bright idea of our Lodges attending public events and creating identity files of every child with parents willing to let it be done, so that the police would have things like photos and fingerprints in case that child ever disappeared.

As if that didn't play into the conspiracy theorists handbook!

And then, in a bit of brilliance, they decided to call the whole thing CHIPS!

Cause you know, why not shoot ourselves in the head instead of the foot!

Our leaders actually came up with this nonsense, and promoted it to Lodges throughout the United States for a very long time. But since they held the title Grand Master, nobody said anything. Nobody pointed out that what they were promoting was playing directly into the conspiracy theorists views.

I was proud to be the individual who voted on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Washington to shut this program down once and for all, nationwide, at a recent Conference of Grand Masters of North America annual meeting. But, it had continued for decades. And there were still some people pushing to restart it at the most recent COGMNA meeting.

That is just one of the examples of something I think the membership must stand up against.

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On a more local level, an insurance broker suggested to a local lodge when doing a walk through before providing a quote that we should consider buying a fire suppression system. Note, it wasn't a requirement to get the insurance, just a suggestion. The lodge spent $$$$$ getting one installed. But it's a huge waste of money as they don't have a deep fryer or anything that could cause a grease fire that would require such an extravagance. And it has to be certified annually and maintained. For nothing. It provides no added value to the lodge that a simple hand held fire extinguisher could also do.

And there have been many times that good ideas to help the community were shot down over concerns about getting sued.

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Yeah, concerns about getting sued can be badly overblown by some. We see that a lot with some folks who are overly paranoid.

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May 25, 2023·edited May 25, 2023Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

I just had an experience with a Worshipful Master of a local lodge who was insisting on having a fundraiser that I knew was going to be a flop and cost the Lodge money. I spoke up but to no avail and the poorly designed fundraiser went ahead with no one showing up. We must elect good leadership and be willing to call each other out when we have bad ideas!!!

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I think too often a WM takes the position with a selfish goal of being in power and weild their tenure as such. In my time as a mason I've seen this too often with lodge brothers seemingly paralyzed be to do anything. The unfortunate thing is that these brother's continue to ascert their control from the sidelines.

Early in my time we had a WM callout in lodge that he felt our SW was not fit to lead next year and asked the brothers for candidates who would be willing to take the helm. This was a surprise to all of us, most especially our SW. Our WM is a good man, but his error in judgement in presenting his worries went unchallenged.

For the two years I was WM I continually learned of a past master undermining my decisions and the direction I was taking the lodge. This was done outside of lodge and not in my presence and created a variety of struggles for me as master. This brother created a power struggle, disharmony and strife in a lodge that did not need it. Unfortunately, I was merely the latest brother to in be added to long series of struggles with this brother.

I provided these two examples to make this point. A lodge should be strong enough to support their WM, tell him when he's erring, reinforce that which they like him doing and to tell those brothers created dissent to stop. We are all skillful in areas and not it others. Lodge is a place for us all to work and hew our stones of skill. To not allow a brother the opportunity or support to hew his stones properly do him, the lodge and masonry as a whole a disservice.

A WM is a steward of the lodge, elected by his peers to carry that lodge forward so brothers and future brothers have a place for fellowship. The WM who enter into the post with power and control on their minds are not leaders. If we are to continue towards our perfection these brother's would do well to adopt an attitude of service rather than a selfish one of power and control.

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>>>A WM is a steward of the lodge

I think that this is a wonderful way of looking at it.

I've only once been Worshipful Master, and only for a single term.

But when I attained that office, I was given, by Masons long since dead, a myriad of tools I could use to lead my Lodge:

I was given a fine building, the second largest building in my City, complete with two floors of commercial renters. I was given stock investments and bank accounts. I was given a long and respectable heritage. All of these things were given to me, through the sweat of Masons who had come before me.

And it was certainly my responsibility to transmit all that I received from them to my successor in office. Worst case scenario, in as good of condition as I had received them. Best case scenario, in a better condition than I received them. Anything less would have been a failure in the performance of my duty.

You are 100% correct I think. As WM, we are stewards of our Lodge, with a duty to protect and preserve it for the Masons of the future.

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