Sound familiar? Review your charges and reflect upon your obligations with preparedness in mind. Every step in every degree has some form of preparation. Every lodge opens with the preparation of the physical lodge and preparation of the members before the business of the craft might commence. Freemasonry admonishes us to live upright and improve upon ourselves, and as Masons, we are reminded to read, study, and memorize ritual. If we prepare the space, if we develop the members, and if we apply that to our lives, as Masons, we have a duty to be duly and truly prepared and not just for the ceremony.
On Wednesday, March 3, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of the coronavirus designated COVID-19 as a pandemic. That is, the spread of the virus breached international borders infecting humanity at a rapid rate.
Place the oxygen mask on yourself first, then assist the others around you. An honest assessment of your own personal well being begins this exercise, and I like to use backpacking as my personal go-to for this type of assessment. Am I prepared and in condition to take care of myself? How do I get to that condition? How can I work with others to get to that condition if not completely self-sufficient? In this circumstance, what does self-sufficient entail? If I am honest in this personal assessment, I reinforce my capacity to help my family and others.
A hiker understands the minimum requirements for self-sufficiency, such as food, water, shelter, and medicine. In my backpack, I prepare with a variety of individual first aid options along with signaling ability should I find myself in trouble. For our family, we take that to the next level expanding this to a few lists of items used weekly and monthly. For most, a quick inventory of our medicine cabinet becomes the first step in sufficiently noting needed purchases. I prefer to look at four weeks; most disaster preparedness guides go with two weeks.
After our personal and family's medical needs are assessed and covered, let us shift focus on food, water, and shelter. My southern upbringing included always having a stocked pantry from which to pull ingredients and cook. For this pandemic, I added extra of the same. Panic purchases in the stores make this sometimes entertaining, sometimes dangerous, and I recommend taking a deep breath before we enter the mass wave of humanity fighting over canned sardines that nobody will eat. In other words, avoid every temptation to fill the cart with anything other than what you usually eat or your family enjoys.
Shelter in this particular crisis is much lower on the list as basic services remain intact.
While the American Red Cross website and many others update a pretty good essential list of what to stock for disaster preparedness, I recommend www dot ready dot gov/kit and the overall website as a starting point. The best advice I ever received was to prepare. Prepare a plan, prepare my family by working through the plan, and prepare with practicing the plan.
Bro. Randy Sanders lives near St. Louis and is active in Missouri and Oklahoma Freemasonry. He is Co-Librarian of the Valley of St. Louis, MO., Clerk of the Academy of Reflection based out of the Valley of Guthrie, OK., Lodge Education Officer of 2 Blue Lodges, and develops and delivers Masonic education across the region in blue lodges, AASR SMJ, and York Rite AMD. Randy works in IT/Telecom, mentors IT and business professionals, and also teaches Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and is an NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer. Randy and his wife raise Great Pyrenees dogs, enjoy gourmet cooking classes, and travel internationally. He has been involved in search and rescue, community response, and disaster mitigation for over three decades. He served as Logistics Section Chief on a federal disaster team and deployed to the Oklahoma City Murrah Building bombing and St. Thomas, USVI, for Hurricane Marilyn, among many others.