It was not long after entering Law Enforcement, I was introduced to the book The Art of War by Sun Tzu. The text presents basic principles of warfare and provides military leaders advice on when and how to fight. As I began my career as an officer, I gleaned many truths which aided me in my interaction with my community and fellow officers. The book offers specific battle strategies providing broad advice about conflicts, their resolution, and on life. As a young officer, to me the most significant was “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” Sun Tzu noticed momentum was important to warfare and the same is true in life. Similarly, in a career or Fraternity, often small actions snowball into something bigger. For example, volunteering at work could lead to networking contacts providing clients, or a future job. In our Fraternity, attending Special Communications of your Grand Lodge provides the opportunity to meet and develop friendships which last a life time. Being present could lead to an opportunity to serve as a Grand Lodge Officer. My life in Law Enforcement turned where I met Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown, who provided opportunity for growth. As I volunteered for special duty, new opportunities were presented. I began as a Patrol Officer, next vice and ultimately, property crimes. Upon reflection, I know each season of my life provided momentum through opportunities for growth equipping me for increased responsibility. Each season in my life, united with your support, has enabled me to serve our beloved Fraternity. To concentrate on one season is to miss the kaleidoscope of life. Consequently, to appreciate challenges facing our Fraternity, we need to know our history, appreciate our present, embrace our challenges and plan for our future.
Consider the following parable. There was a father who had four sons which he wanted to learn not to judge too quickly. Therefore, he sent them on a quest to gaze at a pear tree located a great distance away. The first son he sent in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest in the fall. Upon completion, the father called them together to describe what they had seen. The first son said, “the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted.” The second son said, “no, it was covered with green buds and full of promise.” The third son disagreed. He said, “it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen.” The last son adamantly disagreed. He said “it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.” The father then explained that each of them was correct, because they had each seen but one season in the tree’s life. He told them that “you cannot judge a tree, or a person by only one season.” The essence of life’s joy, and love shared, can only be measured at the end of the journey when all the seasons ensue. If you miss the opportunity of your winter, you will miss the opportunity of your spring, missing the opportunity of your summer, and fulfillment of your fall. Don’t let the pain of one season rob your joy contained in the next season. Consequently, our Fraternity has faced the pain of Masonic Trials, financial challenges, NPD’s, neglected facilities, and declining membership. The spring of our Fraternity was when we accepted men from all stations of life as equals. The summer of our Fraternity attracted the greatest philosophical minds. The fall of our Fraternity remained selective on the quality of aspirant we would accept. Now we find ourselves in the winter of our Fraternity focusing on numbers. Focusing on one season, we can miss the purpose of Freemasonry! No season in Freemasonry was codified to increase our membership. Our defined purpose and goal is to serve our communities by developing our membership providing the opportunity for growth and service, not increasing the number of members on the roll. Sometimes, it just takes one opportunity for the floodgates to open. Attend your Lodge and Grand Lodge because silence is also a lost opportunity.
Word of the month:
Videlicet-adverb, Latin - that is to say; namely (used especially to
introduce examples, details, etc.).
Quote of the month:
“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the
bricks others throw at him.” Sidney Greenberg
Thought of the month: Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying,
“Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here
am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6: vs. 8
Together we can protect, preserve, serve, and grow.
O.B. Smith, SGW