Brethren,
During these trying times of the global pandemic, aggravated by political and social unrest; I implore you to reaffirm and solidify the CHARGE (entrusted with duty and responsibility) each of us received and agreed to abide by as newly initiated Entered Apprentices: “To your neighbor, in acting upon the SQUARE, and doing unto him as you wish he should do unto you”, “In the state you are to be a quiet and peaceful subject, true to your government and just to your country. You are NOT to countenance disloyalty or rebellion, but patiently submit to legal authority and conform with cheerfulness to the government of the country in which you live.”
What this charge does NOT say is that we are to be totally agreeable with everyone all the time. Disagreements and differences in views are going to happen. THIS is YOUR opportunity to be the “Better Man” you strive to be as a Brother Mason. Remind yourself that as a FELLOW CRAFT you were charged with;,”You are not to palliate (disguise the seriousness of the offense) or aggravate the offenses of your Brethren; but in the decision of every trespass against our rules, you are to judge with CANDOR, admonish with FRIENDSHIP and reprehend with JUSTICE.” And finally as a newly raised Master Mason you were charged with “In the character of a MASTER MASON you are authorized to correct the errors and irregularities of your uninformed Brethren, and to guard them against a breach of fidelity. to preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied (not spoiled or made impure) must be your constant care,...”.
“How” you respond privately and publicly, be that in person or electronically, is what makes the difference in your Masonic Character. Disagreements are going to happen and your reactions are held to a higher standard as a Mason. Remember, the WORLD at large is watching and listening, ready to admonish YOUR actions as a Mason. These Charges are not just for the couple of hours in Lodge or on a Masonic Zoom call, thy are a way of life you accepted to conform to. Civility as defined by the World Wide Civility Movement and Masonic Family Civility Project is ; ”The action of working together productively to reach a common goal, and often with beneficent purposes.”
We can only work productively together IF we are willing and able to actively LISTEN to, not just hear or read opposing viewpoints. Listening is a learned art and I ask you to learn how to do it. Debate is also a learned art, one which I am continually learning how to better do. I am reminded of the profession definition of civility MWB Mike Rodman uses on his official correspondences;
“Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.”
For more opportunities to make a good man better(meaning yourself) regarding civility, I invite you to check out the Civility Podcasts at http://anchor.fm/civility I just listened to the one on ”Civility and compassion, talking with someone who really disagrees with you.”
I reminded myself this is not only with face to face conversations, but also with emails, Facebook, Twitter and such.
Be well, stay healthy, safe and may your search for further light be an ever evolving endeavor Brethren. More to come next week.
WB Dave Meltz  
Civility Ambassador to the Grand Lodge of South Dakota