The glaring issue I have come across in my short time since being raised (5 years), is that most of the issues the Craft struggles with can be simply attributed to one thing, which is this…
The overwhelmingly, obvious, lackadaisical approach to any dedication for professionalism concerning all aspects of their duties to the Craft.
I have not only witnessed egregious examples of this personally but rather, I have also been the recipient of such ineptitude. And yes: “ineptitude” is the correct word, as I’ll explain. The “glaring issue” I’m using to encapsulate my argument can be boiled down into the following statement:
Far too many Masons look at the assignments, whether volunteered or assigned as if they are fulfilling an obligation on par with an afterthought. And, both the assignor and/or recipient of such should be “happy” if not “grateful” they even tried. Said differently: Fulfillment is not a requisite, it’s more along the lines of, “Well, at least they tried.”
I’m sorry, children try - not fully grown adult men who gave their word. Period. And if that offends someone? Hint: you’re still thinking from the former context, not the latter. Again, period, full stop. I make no excuses for it, neither should you.
In the business world: If you are assigned or take on the responsibility to do a task, and don’t fulfill it to a company standard? You are either shown the door or, you’re reprimanded and instructed on how it is to be performed the next time. And if not - you then may still be shown the door.
Here’s an example…
Hypothetical: A person works for a diner. The owner needs to be away over the weekend and asks them to open and close the restaurant in his absence and entrusts them with the keys for doing so.
They’re not a “manager,” just regular help. They normally work weekdays 10am - 6pm. However, weekend hours are 8am - 4pm.
The owner states “Just be there to open the doors (unlock) and close (lock them), the regular staff will handle the rest.”
That Saturday they show up at precisely 8am to open the doors to a waiting line of weekend staffers with about 5 - 10 patrons waiting to enter and order. Those “staffers and patrons” are not at all that “happy” with them showing up precisely at 8am.
Do they have a point? Hint: You bet they do.
Here’s the issue:
As those staffers and patrons complain and make their irritancy known. The person that arrived at 8am to open will be thinking the whole time: “What?! I was here on time, and this isn’t even my normal work schedule. I’m doing the owner a favor just being here. Geeez.”
See the issue here?
Anyone that understands food prep and food service (and every Mason that puts on a fundraiser knows all too well) that when you “open” at 8am that means- you are ready to begin taking orders then and there.
You don’t start the grill at 8am, or start brewing the coffee at 8am. No, the grill is hot and ready to drop an egg on it at 8am. The coffee is ready to be poured into a cup at 8am, so on and so forth. Normally there is an hour of prep (e.g., 7am) before the doors open for business.
Now here’s the qualifier I alluded to prior…
If the person never understood the prep that went into the day before his shift started. And, was in many ways “a rookie?” You (the owner) can be upset. However, the upset issue is - with you (the owner). i.e., You would be more upset with yourself for not fully appreciating their skill level before you asked. Then, you would learn to not let it happen again.
However, if they are a seasoned worker and know full well the intricacies? Your “explanation” will more or less be on the lines of how and why they’re being shown the door. i.e., They (seasoned staff) know they need to be there an hour prior.
Are we on the same page here for understanding? Great, let’s move on.
I have borne witness to so many egregious displays of unprofessionalism within the Craft in respect to “duties,” it’s a wonder I even made it through the West Gate. When I originally “Knocked…” I used one Lodge’s website portal to inquire as it instructed to no reply. I then repeatedly sent emails as a follow-up to where the WM of that Lodge sent me a very apologetic reply (I accepted, and still do, as truthful) that things happen, and he would personally help me in going through the process and did so.
Then came time for my: Investigation. Through our conversations, he notified me that they had assigned an investigation committee to me and I would be hearing from them shortly. I never did.
Weeks went by - nothing. I emailed the WM who was totally apologetic (and I believe was sincere) and said he would find out what was happening and get back to me. He did, said he had spoken with the person assigned and they would be contacting me within the next few days. I let two weeks go by, again - nothing. I emailed this WM nearly apologetic in my resentment to how I was being treated. How was it that the WM (remember, at this time, I have no clue about hierarchy except perceived notions that they are “boss.”) can be instructing people do something - and they are not doing it?
Weeks had now turned into months going by. Is there something about me that I’m not being told? I was purely in a “What is all this about?!” conundrum.
Finally, in a final emailing with the WM, he informed me after trying to get to the reasoning why, he then stated (paraphrasing): “I was told they were just too busy to get to you, work things had come up and I would now need to get someone else to do it.” He apologized profusely for this happening. And it was here rather than remain angry I actually felt sad for him, for it was truly a disservice to him and said so. I then instructed him to withdraw my petition, send me back my money, and I would rethink my reasoning for entertaining the thought of joining, and, more than likely, would never darken a masonic doorway ever again.
That was my first dealings with the Craft - it has not been the last. (I’m beginning to think many might feel better if I stayed with that thought, but that’s for another article.) Since then I have participated in a few different aspects regarding meetings and other items. I have bore witness (more than once) to where a presenter who was invited to do a presentation is met with: “Oh, ah, projector? Ummm, screen? Ahhh, AC power? Yeah, I don’t know if we have any of that. And if we do, it’s probably locked up in a closet. Sorry. I’m just here to shut the alarm and open the doors.”
I have, again, more than once, been notified I needed to either have this that or another thing available before I can move further with something - just days prior to finalization. i.e., Something that I’ve been working on for months that is now in a finalized version. When I’ve asked, I’m usually greeted with a statement much like the same example I used to open. i.e., “It was assigned to X, they didn’t follow through, but they’re very sorry.”
Here’s the issue: I (nor does anyone else) care about how genuinely “Sorry” someone is that didn’t do what they knew needed to be done. Period. It’s completely unprofessional and borders on - self-absorbed preoccupation. i.e., Just because you “apologize” doesn’t mean squat depending on the circumstances. Children do that, not, supposedly, grown professional men. I could list more and more, but I won’t. The sheer fact that I can recite even one should give many in the Craft pause to look about themselves and question “Are we doing anything like that?”
We all know it, we’ve all been there. And, we’ll all be there again, many times further, as time goes along. However, there’s a very big difference between something going wrong that is out of one’s hands then there is with someone just ignoring a circumstance that happened to you and could be overcome.
Let's assume you have your car breakdown days prior to when you have a committee assignment due. You begin making calls then to either replace it or replace you to fulfill your assignment. Brokedown, as you were en route, is a completely understandable issue.
This organization tries to instill the idea that is not only a group of like-minded men but those who take responsibility and “their word is their bond” attitudes toward one and other as “sacred.” It needs to start acting like it before others begin to take it seriously, and want to be part of it, once again.
Because the issue here is…
In the examples, I listed including those I did not, many of the ones that “apologized” have since moved onto higher offices known as “Purple.”
Mark St. Cyr