How many articles have you read, talks you’ve listened to, or videos you’ve watched where the call of the Past Master, “That’s not how we did it in my year!” is criticized?
This is not one of those articles.
I too have read many times how that group of Past Masters, who sit in the far corner of the Lodge room, heckle, point things out, “help” with ritual, and question the decisions being made can create disharmony and prevent progress in a Lodge. I’m sure like many of you I read those articles and thought about ways to minimize the impact and agreed that it wasn’t needed in the Lodge room.
Then I became one.
Yes, I’m a Past Master. No, I don’t sit in the far corner of the Lodge room. Yes, I frequently stand to speak to constitutional, procedural, and protocol issues. No, I don’t use the phrase, “that’s not how we did it in my year!”
As one who tries to sit on the sideline and enjoy the fellowship of my Lodge Brothers it often becomes apparent that while the intent is there the form needs assistance. I’m not one to force anyone to do something “just because,” but I do try to educate.
I have been known to stand and suggest that we take a different path, sometimes for the sake of tradition. I try to take the time to explain why our Lodge, which is nearing its 190th anniversary, has done things in certain ways (at least from my understanding). The difference is that after I speak, I sit down and let the Master and the Lodge make the decision, and then accept it.
I think that’s where the constant thought that our Past Masters are trying to steer things is often misplaced. When I sat in the East I was luckily enough to have the support of my Past Masters, but it took time and energy on my part to get that. I took the time to get to know them and understand why they expected things to be done a certain way. I asked questions and listened to what they had to say. It was that understanding and open communication line that allowed me to adjust things to how I wanted them while still honoring the spirit of the past.
So please, before you condemn all of us Past Masters for opening up and sharing our thoughts, understand that it’s typically coming from a good place. Take the time to get to know us and we’ll be more likely work with you instead of being a thorn in your side.