Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I Was About to Write a Manifesto

On 16 October 2013, my friend Chris Hodapp posted a internet meme and of course this picks at a huge scab in modern Freemasonry, the appropriate dress in a lodge room.  This horse has been beaten to death, and before you can say "Suit and Tie", you get at least one person writing:

"Remember it is the internal not the external qualifications that make a man a Mason"

This obvious reference to what an initiate is told when they go through the first degree of Masonry, and has become the rallying cry of slobbish behavior and lazy dress in our lodge rooms, during our public appearances, and when we do the most sacred of things, labor in the quarries.

After writing the above I imagine someone is already commenting telling me how it is the internal, not the external.

So here is the situation, our fraternity in this country has been seen as the pillars of their respective communities, regardless of trade or financial status they were good men, who worked hard in their communities, and too support each other.  They were not to exclude men based off of their profession or wealth, but based on their ability to exemplify Freemasonry in every aspect of his life and improve himself and those around him.  This comes from that fact that this line of thought in the 1700s was taboo, and classes, and professions were to stick to their own, and not befriend what was viewed as a lesser profession by popular culture or in a lower monetary bracket, or differing religious faiths.

Flash forward to today, we have become an organization that is nothing less than desperate for members (not brothers), and have excused their short comings in society, in their profession, and in their personal life away, and saying gleefully "It is the internal, not the external".  We have made dues cheap, let men in, as long as they don't have a felony, and put them in positions of leadership they have no business performing, for no other reason, because they show up for the hot dogs and beans and learn to read the charge from a book.

It is the internal...
A man can't hold down a job for more than a month, for no other reason than he seems allergic to work?

"It is the internal not the external"

A man owes back child support, owes creditors and is constantly broke due to poor financial choices?

"It is the internal not the external"

A man has no problem dressing in shorts and a t-shirt no matter the occasion, but owns a new truck every two years and has an armory of hunting rifles, and cries that he can't afford a pair of slacks and a button down shirt?

"It is the internal not the external"

The bastardization of this core principal of our fraternity has turned "It is the internal qualifications not the external that makes a man a Mason.:"  Into an cliche, like an obese man stuffing himself at the buffet and saying "Waste not, want not!"  We use it to excuse away our lack of standards, and consider ourselves above the known fact that outward behavior, lifestyle, and dress is a strong indicator of the internal qualifications of any man.

So then you get the "Dress standards have changed, get with the times."  Great, they have changed, and they haven't, my Grandfather who worked in a Garage during the 1930s, when he decided to petition a lodge he wore a suit and tie.  He always wore a suit and tie to lodge meetings, he never wore one at work.  He later became an automotive engineer for Standard Oil, and credits Freemasonry for raising his standards, and making him a better man.  Now, we allow men into our fraternity to lower our standards, and makes us into another club and cry "It is the internal not the external."

Then someone will write:

"So your Lodge has a strict dress code? Good for you. Not all Lodges do. Some are more concerned with members attending than they are with what they wear."

I want to thank this person for using members, and not brothers, and showing that he will allow anyone who doesn't have a felony through the West Gate.

Then you get:

"I would rather a brother show up in rags, than not at all."

First if he has been initiated, passed, and raised and is showing up in rags you have far greater problems than his dress.  Your happiness stinks of desperation and tells the brother that shows up in rags "Please come in and take advantage of us, not better us or yourself, for we need a warm body in the seats."

Now in my lodge we have suits for officers and business casual for members, (blazer, shirt and pressed pants).  We get visitors unannounced that do show up in well worn jeans and a collard shirt.  I have never turned anyone away, and most have embarrassment about they way they dressed.  I have assured them that it is okay, that they are visiting, and they are welcome in our lodge.  This is very common in a state where 65% of lodges are in rural areas.

So here is my sort-of Manifesto, STOP IT.  Stop using a foundation in our fraternity to excuse laziness, to excuse a lack of standards, and to excuse your membership base.  We are here to lift each other up, not get drug down into who can least judge the other, and show tolerance, where we need to be intolerant.  Stop using dress to hide that your lodge have low standards, and cry "It is the internal not the external" when those lack of standards are exposed.

You want low standards, than say it, don't hid behind our teachings to excuse your crappy treatment of our fraternity in attempts to get a couple of losers into a lodge, who have no business being there to begin with.  Because no matter what you do for them it won't be enough, and they will keep taking and keep lowering your standards, while you are happy to have a couple of warm bodies in the seats.

As of note, I wrote this in my underwear, so anyone that has a problem with it, "It is the internal, not the external!"

-Bro Vick


Lee Coursey said...


M.M.M. from the North Eastern Corner said...

Good one Brother!

Richard Ingham said...

great article Bro. Vick
I agree with you that lowering our standards is not the way to help our Fraternity
By putting a coat & tie on adds more meaning to attending any function whether it's a church service,wedding or Lodge meeting