High Expectations

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Erik Anthony Marks

In reflecting on Brother Acre’s recent post on Masonic Education, I was brought back to my arrival at the West Gate. Unlike the New Brother with incredible memory in his writing, I have a lot of difficulty retaining facts and exact quotes. It takes a lot of repetition. Luckily for me, we do that in Masonic Education! I’ve learned that not all lodges require new Brother’s to memorize the catechism. I was disappointed and perplexed why this would be the case. Immediately two reasons came to mind: 1) It takes a lot of work to teach 2) there could be a worry that having to work, would put men off.

With regard to both points: our metaphor is that of Labor--work. It’s built into our reason for being, for many reasons with multiple meanings. Before the advent of sociological research, people knew that work matters: a sense of purpose quite often means more to us than “being happy.” People strive for greatness not because it’s easy, but because it matters to make a difference for others. So let’s dispense with the first point there, we are here to work.

With regard to the second point, High Expectations mean greater value. If we expect little of the Brethren, new or veteran, what we do will have little value to them or the world. If we demand a lot, what we do will have value. In the last twenty years, research on resilience, or resiliency as it is sometimes called, confirms what the builders of old already knew: High Expectations, well supported, lead to better outcomes. If we expect nothing more of each other and ourselves than to get into the Fraternity as quickly and easily as possible, what value do we have? I realized as I type the preceding statement, many of us join for different reasons which have been, and will be, addressed in other places and times.

I recall with joy and enduring excitement my own experience, the evening of my first degree. It was a blur, I was so immersed in the experience. I remembered very few words. I distinctly recall the voice of my conductor; I remember Worshipful’s voice during my obligation, and our conversation the following day. He stated the expectation, and support. As we began our Labors he said: “There will be a lot of work. It may take time. We won’t let you fail.”


Brother Erik Marks is a clinical social worker whose usual vocation has been in the field of human services in a wide range of settings since 1990. He was raised in 2017 by his biologically younger Brother and then Worshipful Master in Alpha Lodge in Framingham, MA. You may contact brother Marks by email: erik@StrongGrip.org

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