From The Archives: The 50 Year Member: Part Fourteen - Whisper Good Council
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Bill Hosler, PM
“I can't believe I said yes to this.” Pudge punched his pillow as he grumbled, “This ground is as hard as a rock!” The old man replied as his voice could be heard in the darkness, “Well, I'm sure there are plenty of rocks in the ground you are laying on.” Pudge not seeing the humor in the 50-year member's remark and began to mutter, “I could be home right now playing a video game, eating pizza, and falling asleep in my nice comfy bed. Why in the world did the Master think it would be a great idea for the members of the lodge to all go camping together?” He continued muttering as he abused the pillow underneath his head.
As the sun was setting, the crickets could be heard outside the tent that the two men were sharing. The campground sounds were deadening as the men of the lodge were slowly settling into their tents; while the sun was in the west at the close of the day.
“I'm guessing you aren't the “Outdoorsy type"", the old man whispered with a smile that could not be seen in the darkness. “Nope.” Pudge grunted, “I just don't see the sense in spending a fortune on equipment so you can live like a homeless person.” The old man chuckled, “I never thought of it that way. I just think the Master thought it would be a way for the Brethren to bond and discover ideas that can better the lodge.” Pudge turned over in his sleeping bag searching for that elusive comfortable position. “I know. I don't mean to be this grumpy. I just hate the idea of spending the entire weekend with THAT guy.”
“That guy?” The 50-year member uttered with a question in his voice. “Which, THAT guy?” Pudge hesitated to answer, “Benny Hart.” I can't stand THAT guy. He is a blowhard. All he does is brag about all the stuff he owns and the women he runs around with, and he is constantly abusing alcohol. I suspect there are other things he does that we don't know about that I'm sure would make us look bad. I don't know if I can keep my mouth shut around him for an entire weekend.”
“I can see that. You can't like everyone.” The old man expressed, “Let me ask you this, what have you done to try to help him?” Pudge sat up in his sleeping bag, “Help him! Why in the world would I try to help that blowhard?” “Because he is your Brother.”, the 50-year member replied. “Have you tried talking to him about his failings? Put your arm around his shoulder and try to whisper good counsel in his ear? It's easy to hate someone, but the hardest part is holding out your hand to help a Brother see the error of his ways.”
Pudge’s voice began to rise, “There is no talking to that guy! We would have been better off if we never let him in!” The old man said “Maybe, but he's in and now we have to deal with him. We each had an opportunity, you included, to prevent it. If he is as bad as you say he is then each of us could have investigated his background. Sitting in on his interview or talking to him on a casual basis could have raised a flag. Unless of course, he was purposely hiding his background and personality. We should have seen his character and prevented his membership.”
Pudge quietly sat in the darkness. “You are right. I had a feeling about him when I interviewed him. I never mentioned it to anyone.” The 50-year member seemed surprised, “You did? And you didn't say anything? If nothing more you could have thrown a black ball during his vote.” “I could have” Pudge muttered. I thought that maybe it was just me. I also know the lodge needs additional members so I decided to say nothing. I had hoped I was wrong and he would turn out all right.”
“That is one of the big problems Masonry has today.”, the old man exclaimed. "We hold our noses and vote in people because we need the members. Sadly we have been so short-sided focusing on the membership numbers that we don't think about the man we are bringing in. No one ever stops to think if we were more selective and truly guarding the west gate then the men we bring in might stay around.” Pudge was still inside his sleeping bag. His voice whispered through the darkness, “I'm afraid if the west gate would have been well guarded when I tried to enter it, I probably wouldn't be here today.” The old man seemed confused by Pudge's statement. “Why on earth would you think that?” A pause in the conversation seemed like an eternity before Pudge responded. “Because they probably wouldn't have let me in. I didn't look like the typical Mason when I joined. My tattoos, hair, and even my dress screamed out that I was not Masonic material.”
The old man laughed, “Buddy I will admit I had my concerns when I first saw you. But I got to know you. I learned to look past your physical appearance. I know you have heard a million times it’s the inward not the outward. There is a lot of truth to that. We need to look at the inward by doing a good candidate investigation. Not just talking to the man and his family. We should talk to the people the man interacts with in his daily life. Find out what kind of man he is.”
The old man continued, “Many men want to join the Fraternity. Many want to become better men or find a deeper meaning in life. Sadly, there are those men who join that think by having a square and compass on their lapel will help them in business or even allow them to network with prospective clients. Worse yet, it will give them the appearance of respectability. We need to weed those men out from the men who wish to become Masons to better themselves.”
“If we attract just numbers then that is exactly what we will get. Just numbers. We will have men who join and soon realize that being a member does not help them with their mercenary motives. They will either just quit coming, demit or allow themselves to become suspended for nonpayment of dues. Then we are in no better place than where we started.”
“But, if we allow only those men of quality, the ones who wish to become better men through service to themselves and their worthy Brothers, we will once again become a great fraternity. Those men will thrive and will continue to come to the lodge and be a positive influence on all those who surround them. Everyone will benefit from each other’s company.”
Pudge lay in silence as the old man spoke. “I know you are right. I would rather be surrounded by a small group of great men instead of a group of 100 men like that Benny.” “Most people would Pudge", the old man replied. "But since he is already in, we must do our job. One of the things a great man can do is to have the courage to face things he doesn't want to and tackle those tasks that are either unpleasant or seem to be impossible. I think one of those tasks for you is to try and talk to Benny. Whisper good counsel in his ear and hopefully, your influence will have a positive effect on him. If it doesn't help, then at least you will have a clear conscience and you know you tried to help him see the error of his ways.”
Pudge turned over in his sleeping bag once again. Groaning as he turned. “OK I'll start in the morning, that is if I can ever find a comfortable position to fall asleep.”
The old man laughed. “You will son. Soon you will fall asleep and then wake up as the sun rises in the east to open and govern the day with the smell of bacon cooking over a campfire. If that doesn't start your day off right I don't know what will. I'll even make sure there is a pot of coffee brewing on the fire just for you.” Pudge giggled, “Plain coffee isn't my favorite but I guess it will have to do. Maybe next year I can talk the Master into camping outside a coffee shop. That way I can wake up to the smell of a latte in the morning.”
Both men chuckled to themselves as they each fell fast asleep under the stars to the sound of crickets in the distance.
WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.