WHAT IMAGE ARE YOU PROJECTING

By Bro Clive Herron

Marine Lodge 627 I.C.

What is meant by the word “image” as I have used it?  It relates in this sense to the process of projecting the desired visual image communicated to others. “Visual” is a key and defining word for us. It’s a mental impression or record made in the short term and perhaps long-term memory of others. When we use the word “process,” we need to ask ourselves what discipline is needed in order to develop a good image and why is this important.

Image does not run on auto pilot it is something that has to be constantly worked at. If this were not so Companies would not be spending Millions on advertising, packaging, corporate clothing signage on vehicles etc. and yet one small neglect or oversight can bring about the collapse of that image. Think of how immediate is the reaction when Toyota or General Motors discover a fault in a new car. It is quickly recalled and rectified. This is because the image they project determines their long term reputation.

Irrespective of who or what you are it is reputation that counts and this can only be measured by one yardstick either GOOD or BAD there are no in betweens

In order for a company to project an image or earn a reputation it must possess the skills required to sustain it.

In this regard they

 ·       firstly employ only personal who meet their skills criteria

·       Then they hone the individuals skills by sending them on specialist courses

·       They employ consultants to assist in the marketing and advertising

·       And send staff on management courses that ensure inter personal skills and time management in order to maintain efficiency

·       Loss control managers are employed

·       Quality control is introduced

·       Security staff is engage

·       Management is made accountable

·       They train their sales staff to communicate the benefits of the product

·       Then they look to recruit dealers and expand their market.

Now how does that relate to me as a Mason:- 

Firstly

 ü    We accept into our ranks only candidates of good repute who have been duly prepared

ü    We know about time management as illustrated by the 24 inch gauge

ü    We know about the penalty for dishonesty from the legend the slaying of Hiram Abiff

 

ü    We know about perfecting our skills as did the craftsmen

ü    We know about integrity through the square and plumb line

ü    We know about accountability through the lessons of the pencil

ü    We know about developing good relations by making the rough stone smooth through the use of the gavel

ü    We learn management skills by progression within the lodge

ü    We knows about role play through practicing the ritual

ü    We accept that it is our duty to strive for knowledge

ü    We gain confidence through workings in the lodge and able to practice our oratory

 

More than any other organisation Freemasonry teaches us a comprehensive range of life skills not taught elsewhere. In a lodge a Brother must speak in public, vote on issues and eventually chair meetings. In addition it provides the opportunity to experience administrative responsibility, Ceremonial activity, fund raising and caring. All in an atmosphere of peace, love and harmony.

This leads me to ask. What sort of Image are you projecting?

We As Freemasons, are equipped to project a good image, become better and more upright citizens – or a light in our communities. We were accepted as men of good repute who were vouched for and given the tools of understanding that assists to make good men better. The success we achieve is up to the individual but the reputation of the organisation is in the beholders eyes and this depends on you.

How are you using those tools?

A contented and well trained employee of Toyota or General Motors will be proud to tell others who he works for and what he does.

Why is it that some go out of their way to conceal the fact that they are Freemasons?

Is it because

they are ashamed of Freemasonry. Or

because they fear some may think it evil or subversive.

Or is it that their lodge would not be able to hold the interest of a candidate

These are questions that must be examined and answered.

 

Commercial undertakings advertise the associations they belong to they advertise the fact that their business is a member of

The Chamber of Commerce

They belong to The Electrical Traders Association

They are members of “Proudly South African” campaign

They are approved by the Bureau of Standards

Etc.

Silence only serves to perpetuate the belief that there is a hidden agenda. If the public do not know who we are, can they be blamed for the mistrust and suspicion they have of our Order. Could it be that we are to blame.

 

I have come across individuals who recall their father or grandfather being freemasons but they themselves know nothing of the craft. The only recollection they have is a picture of that person dressing up once a month and going off to his meeting carrying a little bag. What a pity.

 

Children follow in their parents footsteps. A good parent guides and instructs his children regarding spiritual, educational and vocational requirements, but neglects to put them on the path of Freemasonry thereby denying them the fulfilment that the craft has to offer.

Why is this?

I fear the real reason is because most of us come out in a hot flush when asked – WHAT IS FREEMASONRY ALL ABOUT?

Freemasonry is a lifelong learning process

Sadly the world judges us, the way they perceive us, by what they know of us, or by what they think they know of us.

 We are judged not only by our member’s abilities, but also their attitudes and knowledge of the craft. The more public we become, the more we will expose ourselves to scrutiny, (especially being masons) Remember, it is a collection of individuals (Some 5 million of us) who make up freemasonry, and it is the way a single  individual is judged that formulates public opinion.

 

Fortunately for us, Masonry isn't what the "antis" of the world make it. It's what we as Masons make it. The Fraternity doesn't live by public opinion. We are tolerant to it. It is what is in the heart of a Mason that counts. If we keep our main focus on charity, brotherhood, and God our Father, our Fraternity will survive all of the maliciousness of other men.

Public opinion is nevertheless important to us if we are to attract candidates

It is up to each and every one of us to become more active as Masons and equip ourselves to be in a position to field questions which may be put.

TRY ANSWERING THESE QUESTIONS

·       So what do you want Freemasonry to be?

·       Are you one of those who sit back and hope that something will come along that the world agrees with?

·       Do you go and do that which will give Freemasonry a good public image?

·       Do you attempt to make a difference?

The answer is squarely in your hands. The ritual has equipped you.

Don't wait for things to get better; make things better.

·       How can a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons expect to keep and attract good men if it doesn't give them good things to do?

The opening and closings in our Ritual will not keep everyone interested forever, and if this is all you rely on your Lodge will falter.

Take a look at successful lodges and compare yourself then ask yourself the question

·       If I were an outsider how would I describe Freemasonry, my lodge and my involvement?

An observation made by Thomas Jefferson a former President of America “Always commit an act as though the world were looking at you”

The world is becoming more permissive moral standards are falling. Some may even judge us to be somewhat outdated in certain of our attitudes. We are however mandated to be inflexible in our fidelity and to familiarise ourselves with the rules of Freemasonry, which we have sworn to uphold, and then to act in conformity with them. If we do this we will be entitled to self esteem and we will be setting a good example for others to follow, even if viewed as outdated. By our very observance of the V.S.L. we cannot be judged as evil. If we cannot accept our obligation by abiding to Freemasonry’s moral and philosophical principles, how can we expect non-freemasons to accept them, or to join us and learn? We must remember, what we do today has a significant impact on the future.

So Now

 ·       Be critical of yourself, how do you rate – what is your individual score – is your conduct such that it would earn you the approval of your family and your peers.?

 

Today changes are taking place and it is how we manage these changes that we will be judged.

But in Masonry change has always taken place. Skilled masons left Jerusalem and travelled the world using their skills and teaching their moral principles. Then with the collapse of the Gothic period in the middle Ages membership was augmented with non-artisans and the ritual of the accepted mason developed stressing philosophical rather than practical lessons. If Freemasonry is to continue to grow we will have to embrace change. Some of the changes will be to do with openness, some will be cultural and there will be others. These changes will meet with opposition within our own ranks, but they will never alter the basic principles of the Free and Accepted Mason and that is, A BELIEF IN ONE SUPREME GOD and DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU by the practice of TRUE BROTHERLY LOVE, FAITH, HOPE  and CHARITY.

Remember the law of nature – WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND” The VSL tells us, read Ecclesiastes Ch 2, -  To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven ……..there is a time to cast away stones and time to gather them together……..a time to get and a time lose”.

And we are told in St Paul’s letter to the Galatians “let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap; if we feint not”.

There will always be an element of resistance to change. – There was a time that Freemasonry  was acceptable to the Church otherwise the Cathedrals would not have been built by the roving freemasons. Attitudes changed causing resistance, and I am confident that they will change again as the church liberalises. Freemasonry therefore must remain steadfast and any changes that may come from within may alter the administration but interfere with our basic beliefs.

The decision to change the burning of the three great lights from oil or candles to electric light bulbs must have in itself generated debate.

In an age where man having gone to the moon and back is old hat, change is taking place at a far more rapid rate, and these new changes will place Masonry under extensive public scrutiny. (You must be on your guard.) Firstly by those who oppose our moral standards and secondly by those who envy them but remain too bigoted to acknowledge Freemasonry as a force of good.

We are now in the age of computers and cell phones communication has become instant and views for or against can be transmitted almost at the blink of an eye. Information technology has come to the forefront. The public are no longer satisfied with simple explanations given down the line. They want new and instant information as it happens. Based on this, they will make up their minds for or against. In the 1970’s Bill Gates predicted that we would become dependent on the PC – He was correct. Today the computer is fast being replaced with laptops, palm held units; even cell phones have access to the Internet. Information is being disseminated on the move. The public want Breaking News. Even libraries are being replaced with databases and through the internet we can link into the great libraries of the world.

This opens new opportunities for Freemasons to project their image.

Whilst I do not agree with every thing the American Freemasons are doing, credit must be given for the fact that they are making greatest use of the electronic media, CD & DVD as well as slide show presentations, to attract and demonstrate freemasonry. There are even dedicated TV and radio stations devoted entirely to freemasonry. These are indeed the working tools of the modern freemason. I can see the conservative cringe, but Freemasonry has to expose itself in this way and become more public. I look forward to the day when lodges can link together across the globe. Can you imagine the potential we have as a force for good.

Freemasonry has a new opportunity to sell itself to the world.

Through the internet more has been written about Freemasonry in the last 5 years than since the inception of Masonry in the days of Solomon and this will double over the next 3 years then double again and again in an even shorter period.

The use of electronics is going to have the same effect for the speculative mason as the jackhammer would have had on the chisel for the operative mason

There are many benefits to be had by becoming more public these were acknowledged by the Grand Master M.Wor Bro Eric Waller in his address to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim, Belfast on Saturday 30 October 2004.

And I quote

Tremendous benefits will accrue from informing the public about the true nature of Freemasonry, thereby achieving a vastly improved public image. A major step in this direction was the creation of the Grand Lodge website, an excellent source of accurate information about Irish Freemasonry.

 M.Wor Bro. Eric Waller 30 October 2004

There is no need to be ashamed of being a Freemason. We should be proud of our membership and be prepared to talk about it, and answer questions. If we hide our light under a bushel how on earth do we expect to illuminate the world. At all times we must project a Masonic image.

·       Be proud to be a Freemason – we have the formula to change the world – Don’t keep it a secret.

Be prepared attitudes will change in the 21st century. Society expects transparency in the work place and government in fact in all structures of society. The public demands honesty and admires true charity.

Our South African Constitution contains specific clauses on disclosure regarding matters of public interest. Yet we Know that there is no organisation more honest and above board than Free & Accepted Masons. Nevertheless we are going to have to drag ourselves out of the closet and become more open and proud of our works.

A lot more effort must be placed on our public image without sacrificing those tenants we hold as confidential yet open to all those who seek to join.

Freemasonry is not a cloak and dagger organisation – yet we seldom speak freely of our membership. So who is perpetuating public opinion?

If you have not yet thought of a reason why we should not become more open – then it must be becoming clearer to you that we really do have something to talk about.

A word of caution, even in our changing society, we must remain obedient to our rules. This must be accomplished by our self-control, which will have to visibly demonstrate and be open to public for scrutiny. It is only when our pure principles and mandatory duties become the reigning reality of our thoughts and the inspiration or our acts can Freemasonry be the influence intended. The task will not be easy.

Unfortunately, society today is made up of bashers. Everyone wants to bash something or someone. The world is being overcome by people who want to find something bad about something that has always been thought of as good, or something ugly about someone who is respected in the public eye. People will do anything to sell a book or make a movie. The cleaner the organization has been or the better the person has been, the more vicious the attack. If the basher can just find something to make this respected thing or person imperfect, he can become rich and famous. What a shame.

Yet as Freemasons we know that no one on Earth is perfect. We are not surprised to see imperfection. We know that we all need perfecting. That's why, through our tenets, our rituals, and our teachings, we strive to make good men better men. We prefer to start off with men humble enough to have the desire to become better men, not men who think they are already perfect.

As a Freemason you must continue to do what you know is good and right in spite of the darts that are thrown at you. Become more charitable in your heart, and the wounds will heal. If your main focus is defence – you will attract attack and your main purpose will be neglected.

 If the world can sucker you into a defensive posture, it will use your own defences against you. Ignore it all and focus on the landmarks of “BROTHERLY LOVE, RELIEF FROM SUFFERING and TRUTH Always exercising, Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, Candour, Discretion and Fidelity.

The more charitable your heart becomes, the better man you will become, and your enemies will be ashamed. Over time your image will be enhanced as a MAN who stands out above others and whether or not the public give the credit to Freemasonry or not – in your heart you will know that you are right. And that you have created the right image.

·       Not one person ever joined because of any of our great Masonic heroes. Joining doesn't make you any of those people.

·       Not one person ever joined in order to give money or services to charity, you don't have to be a Freemason to give money or render service.

·       Not one person ever joined because we can recite our ritual word perfect, or that the Deacons cope at the right time, or that our minutes are accurate, or the other things we worry about.

 

They joined because someone they knew and admired was a Mason. It could have been a father, a friend, a man down the street, or someone with whom they work. It could have been you yourself. Who, doesn’t matter. They admired him and wanted to do the things he did, and millions of men before have joined for the same reason. The image of the one they looked up to forged the reputation of freemasonry in the beholders eye.

It does not end there now that new member MUST be drawn into and embraced by the Lodge. The falling away of short term masons can also tarnish our image and reputation.

If you want to help the growth of freemasonry. Be a proud Freemason, don’t hide your light under a bushel, involve your lodge and become involved. Tell people you are a Freemason and project the image others admire. Someone will be sure to notice.