W. Bro Robert Davidson, Past Master
Grand Lodge of Saskatchewan
R.W.Bro. Webber phoned me some time ago and asked me
if I would address you this evening and told me that the topic
was my choice. A topic that has been written about and
discussed at length at almost every Masonic gathering in
recent past is the problems facing Masonry. We have talked
about lack of new members, lack of attendance, Lodges
Surrendering their Charter, Lodges amalgamating and so on.
Tonight I am not going to quote statistics, I think we all are
aware of the magnitude of the problem.
However, I am a person who believes in solutions rather
than problems, and so tonight I have decided to share with
you what I believe is one solution. I like a challenge, so I said
to myself, suppose I could contribute something to this
gathering that would send you away with not only an answer
to Masonry's problems, but also advise who is going to be
A tall order? Yes it is!!
Do I indeed have the secret? Yes I do!!
First of all, am I going to advocate huge changes for
Masonry? No! No I believe, as I am sure you do, the
uniqueness of Masonry is our strength. We offer something
to a man that I don't believe can be found anywhere else.
But do we have to change some things - definitely yes - all
aspects of our fraternity has to be looked at and examined.
It will not come as a surprise if I say to you that we live in a
changed and still changing world. But I sometimes wonder if
we realize just how much things have changed in a short
time. I consider myself to be a young person, but consider
some of the changes just in my short time on the planet. I
was born before television, almost before commercial radio,
computers, credit cards, pavement, traffic lights, ball point
pens, snowmobiles, multi speed bicycles, oreos, deodorant,
automatic transmissions, panty hose, air conditioning and
instant coffee, and bunnies were small rabbits, a loonie was
a very strange person, grass was mowed, coke was a cold
drink, pot was something you cooked in and making out was
how you did on an exam.
In a 1993 Tracing Board, the Grand Master of the time
suggested membership/friendship nights leadership
programs, mentor programs, a philanthropy that we can brag
about - he stated that we need these things not only for our
present members but to once again make Freemasonry
something to which young people want to belong. Are these
good suggestions? They are excellent - there have been
many many excellent suggestions. We have talked about
officer proficiency leadership training . . . . . . . . . . The
problem I find with a lot of these suggestions is that
personally find it hard to know where to begin. How I can
make a difference. I am, at heart, very simple, basic person
and I have always believed that a problem is only an
opportunity in disguise and the best way to begin changing a
problem into an opportunity is at the grass roots. At the
basics, if you will.
In my work with small businesses across Western Canada,
we don't talk about the philosophies of business, or the
magic answer, we talk about the basics - sweeping the
sidewalk, greeting customers, dressing up the presentation.
We ask owners to step back and take a new look at their
business - to look at it as if you have never seen it before -
get a new perspective - a new outlook.
I believe we should do that with Masonry - and our Lodge.
Look at ourselves with a new look - perhaps through the
eyes of prospective members or a new candidate. What do
I ask myself this question - where can we begin? The
answer to me seems to lie with the monthly Lodge meeting
and in fact with all Masonic meetings, district, area and the
Grand Lodge Communication.
Wouldn't our problems be solved if we could fill all our
meetings with old and new Brethren every month? I think
Now I am going to tell you it is possible. If I went out and
asked every successful organization the secret of their
success, every one would give me good reasons. Also if I
asked every successful business for the reasons for their
success they would all have good reasons. But every one of
them, organizations or business uses this secret to
guarantee success.... and I am going to give you the
secret.... But I can't just give it to you in so many words. It is
too simple. It is, in fact, so simple you might not totally grasp
it's importance and significance.
So I am going to use humour to etch it in your memory so
that every time you wonder what you can do to increase
attendance or membership, you will remember this story and
the important message it denotes.
There was this young fellow who became tired of city life and
so he purchased a small farm. A hobby farm if you like. With
the farm he acquired three small creatures called piglets.
Now in the course of time they grew up into rather large
animals. One morning our new and inexperienced farmer
found his animals to be acting in a strange and agitated
manner. In consultation with a real farmer, he was informed
they were experiencing the pangs of anticipated and desired
motherhood. He was informed the solution was to transport
his charges to a neighbouring farm and acquire the service
of a boar. This, with some great difficulty, he did. The owner
of the boar advised he was to note the reactions of his pigs
the next morning. If they ensconces in mud, the trip was
successful, however, if they were lying on the grass, the visit
had not been a success, and would have to be repeated. It
turned out, he had to repeat this labourious process for two
more mornings. The third morning when he went to the
barnyard for his morning observation, he found two of the
pigs in the back of his truck, and the third in the cab honking
Now before you get the wrong idea, let me explain. You see
folks, our behaviour depends on the amount of reward. If a
situation is rewarding, we repeat it, and the more rewarding,
the more enthusiasm, and if it continues to be rewarding, we
continue to repeat it. Take a moment and think about the
real reason why you attend meetings, entertainment events,
why you like to shop at particular places of business in
favour of others.
I believe you will agree it is because of the reason I just
stated. In each case you returned and participated because
the experience was rewarding, generated a feeling of
enthusiasm and invited a repeat. Now here's the secret. . . .
The Rewarded Mason Enjoys
and comes back! !
How does this relate to our Masonic gatherings? If each
occasion is rewarding, interesting and challenging, we will
repeat it. If not, we find something else to do. Now, let me
stop here for a moment and tell you that I am not standing
here purporting to be an expert - I have been Master of a
Lodge three times - did I run great meetings - did I have a
challenging program - no not always, and for that I owe
those Lodges an apology...
Times have changed and we have to change our methods.
Let's consider again how times have changed - there's
television - We are bombarded with images of the things that
are fun to do - we see all sorts of people enjoying
themselves in a variety of ways - is it any wonder that our
young people have strong ideas about what is fun and what
isn't? Look how the work situation has changed. Twenty or
thirty years ago we had the idea that we would get a job, and
work there for life - or if you were born on the farm, you'd
stay on the farm - I remember how shocked Mother and
Father were when I came home one day and announced
that I was leaving my job. Dad had the same job for 43
years. Now our young people see reorganization, take overs,
mergers, downsizing, right sizing, cut back, so their outlook
A survey of 250,000 North American workers listing ten motivational items
revealed that the number one motivational reason was interesting work. . and
number two was a feeling of being "in on" decisions - a part of the action - so
now when a young person comes to apply to a company, one of their unspoken
questions is "Will it be interesting to work here?" "Will they give me a true
feeling of belonging?". If the answer is yes, it has to actually become a
reality, and continue to be true, or they move on. Companies have adjusted to
changing times, and Masonry has to change, and I'd suggest we begin with the
Lodge meeting. When a new member or a visitor comes, will they find it
interesting - will they get a feeling of being "in on things", a sense of the
belonging?. We have to examine every aspect of the meeting - is it on the right
night - is it at the ore right time - do we have an interesting challenging
program? Are we continually adapting to the ink members needs? Are we being
creative? Are we wary of long time rules - do we examine the statement "We've
always done it that way!"
Our meetings are considered to be retreats of friendship and
brotherly love. We must not let them and deteriorate to a
session to discuss the same type of problems that we meet
in daily living. If the atmosphere does not constitute a retreat
from the cares of the day, we have missed the purpose. Our
purpose is to provide a change from the daily atmosphere, a
safe and scared retreat for Brethren tired of the hustle and
bustle of modern living spending a quiet evening devoted in
the main to the needs of their fellow men. We have to be
better prepared. We have to learn how to meet change head
on and turn it into an opportunity.
To be successful in this world of ours, we need people - we
need each other. And yet, we are living in an increasingly
unfriendly society. We are losing personal interaction. We
used to have bees, dances, pot lucks. Many excuses to
meet - we had a song "The More We Get Together the and
Happier We Will Be". Today we're turning inward. A word
has been coined. We're cocooning. for Answering machines,
fax machines, automated tellers, drive in windows, home
shopping have all contributed to a loss of interaction. We are
becoming a nation of people who would rather stay not
Yet I believe men want what Masonry offers. People today
appear to be searching for direction, peace of mind. As
evidence, consider some of the best selling books - "Chicken
Soup For The Soul" - "The Celestine Prophecy" and the
Robert Fulgham and John Bradshaw books. These, for
some, have become the new Bible.
Masonry can play an important and necessary role for men.
Masonry offers true friendship, brotherly love, solace in time
of sorrow or need, a solid rock of morality, relief and truth.
We have the responsibility of continuing to offer this to good
men. Offering it in a way that will attract, enthuse, stimulate,
challenge and encourage participation.
Our Notices must be rejuvenated to offer news, to attract
and to invite. Questions must be asked of our other
assemblies. District meetings, area meetings, Grand Lodge
Communication. Do they measure up in the areas of timing,
interest, attraction, challenge, variety and reward.
There's the good news I want to leave with you - we can
change - we can build on what we have.
What could be the bad news? - I promised I would tell you
who is going to do it - well Brethren the answer is in this
room and in rooms around our country - interested, loyal,
faithful, enthusiastic Brethren who care ! ! MWBro Richard
Brown has chosen "Personal Commitment" as his theme
and his slogan "It Is Up To Me".
Can you and I make a difference - Yes we can.
With commitment and action.
It will take commitment. We have to focus on our objective -
take action - follow through - try another approach if
Whatever it takes - that's commitment.
There's always a way if you are committed.
And it will take action. Action creates emotion.
Emotion is created by motion - action makes the difference.
We have to be enthusiastic about Masonry. It has been said
that, "Nothing of consequence ever been accomplished
without enthusiasm." So I believe - you and I can make a
"If It's To Be - It's Up To Me"
Let's Do It ! !
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