Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Just One Black Ball...

This week is when the Grand Lodge of Texas meets for our Annual Communication. Since the majority of people that read this blog aren't Freemasons, here is a quick summary. The Grand Lodge meets once a year to vote on proposed resolutions, to elect a brother to south to eventual become Grand Master and get a state of the union of Freemasonry in Texas. To vote on the resolutions one has to be a Worshipful Master, Warden or a Past Master. Texas holds our annual meeting the first week of December. My plan was to attend this year but was overcome by family obligations, unfortunately. Every once in a while a Grand Master introduces legislation to be considered by the voting members for consideration. This year the MW T.E. "Gene" Carnes puts forth the following recommendation:

"Rescind the Three Blackball Rule by amending Art. 1. 352, 389, 418, 420, 421425, 428, and 429. Purpose to enhance the selection of qualified candidates. The recommendation will effect reinstatements in a Lodge or the petition to affiliate with a Lodge. One blackball or protest will stop actions on joining the Lodge."

Currently if a man petitions a Texas lodge it takes three black balls for that man not be elected to receive the degrees of Freemasonry. The above amendment would make it so one ball would exclude a man from joining a lodge, a brother who wishes to be reinstated to be denied, or a brother wanting to affiliate with another blue lodge. The argument for this is that this will help ensure that the highest quality of men will be allowed through the West Gate.

Now, I think it's been pretty well documented on this blog and by those that know me that I am a Past Nothing (PN), and don't have a vote on this issue, but it does bring up some concerns. Anyone that has any long term and heavy involvement in our fraternity knows that pettiness seems to be a far to often occurrence. While the teachings of Freemasonry teach tolerance and forgiveness, sometimes men push that aside in attempt to secure their own power or personal grievances (shocking, I kn0w). My fear is that the "one black ball" could encourage this type of petty behavior.

MW Carnes is right that we must be diligent in the men that we bring into this fraternity, and that we must ensure that they will reflect well upon Freemasonry in their respected community. But a man that isn't right for Freemasonry or vice versa should be vetted in the investigation phase and a brother that feels strongly about that a man receiving the degrees would bring this up during discussions of voting, not sitting in the shadows knowing that he can deny a man the right, lights and benefits of Freemasonry, because of an inconsequential matter.

I have no idea how well received this recommendation is with the brothers, it seems from various conversations it's about 50/50 and will most likely be a close vote, I just hope it's not a short sighted attempt to fix a problem that seems sporadic at best.


-Bro Vick

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Having Plenty to be Thankful For

Given that a year ago I was recovering from dysentery in Afghanistan and was actually discharged on Thanksgiving back to my camp, I am very thankful this year for a lot of things.

I had surgery on the 17th on my right hand to correct a fracture that never healed correctly during my deployment last year. It has been painful, but at least I am going through it here in San Antonio with family and friends, and not in a combat zone, so I am thankful for that.

This has been a year of transition both as a warfighter and as mason. My seemingly marathon of deployments has finally ended and I have started living a normal life again. I came back in June to my motherlodge that told me that my services as a Mason were not needed, that my profession and status as a reservist was too volatile. Ironically at the same time I was contacted by my other lodge that I have plural membership with and was asked to be a member of the lineup, to which I said yes, and everything started again.

I was installed on the 24th of July as Senior Steward three weeks later I was awarded the Bronze Star for my service in Afghanistan and I had started my civilian job again, life was telling me to move on, and I have. For all of the Past Masters that were thrown into the Senior Warden’s chair and then sitting in the east I am thankful to go through the chairs in a natural progression and not accelerate to the east in an unnatural manner. There is comfort that a man can take away from preparing and feeding his brother Mason. It’s far more work than one thinks, until they have served in that slot, but it has its rewards and brings me a sense of accomplishment Masionically that I haven’t had in a long time.

I am thankful in 2011 for the following:

I am thankful for my family and friends

I am thankful for my second chance in Freemasonry, and the comfort it has brought me

I am thankful for my civilian job and being employed

I am thankful to be alive and to be able to continue my journey here on earth

When I returned in June I had a lot of guilt coming home alive, like I didn’t do enough. I survived 70+ combat missions and have seen my share of lost soldiers. I think of them on any four day weekend, or holiday. But we all must keep on living, sorrow is no way to live life.

Happy Thanksgiving my brothers, Happy Thannksgiving.