From the Grand Master … Sept 2019
Thank you for electing me as your Grand Master. It is a great honour and I feel a great responsibility to deliver on what I have been preaching for the last few years.
My motto for my term is going to be “Freemasonry: the once and future thing”, or in Latin, as all good mottos should be “Res quondam resque futurus”. I have adapted this from Sir Thomas Mallory’s book about King Arthur, published in 1485. I just changed a couple of letters, in each language.
I thought about using “Back to the Future” but that is copyrighted and evokes visions of DeLoreans and flying skateboards. And it is not what I mean. While we should, indeed must embrace it, technology alone will not save us. We must look back to what our forefathers did when Freemasonry was smaller but growing.
In 1905 we had 35,000 Masons in 386 lodges. We had 22 districts, a Board of 20, and nine Grand Lodge Committees. We now have less than 33,000 Masons but we still have a superstructure built for over 100,000.
During this cold winter of disillusionment, we must prune before we can grow strong again. We need to prune Grand Lodge, Districts, Lodges, even our individual activities. We cannot continue to burn ourselves out trying to be all things to all people. We must concentrate on the quintessence of Freemasonry.
We have a template for achieving this. It’s called the Strategic Plan. It surprises me that it is so relevant because it was first written almost a decade ago, or maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. The four themes still apply: we want to ensure the timeless vitality of Freemasonry; we need to reaffirm the Lodge room as the dynamic centre of Masonry; we will rebuild our Craft one man at a time, and we must align Freemasonry’s timeless value to today’s modern culture.
One of my favorite quotations is from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the aviator, philosopher, and yes, children’s author: "When you want to build a boat, don't start by collecting wood, cutting planks and assigning tasks, but instead awaken in the hearts of men a desire for the great and vast sea." In my speeches, including this one, I hope to achieve this. But we also have to continue the actions started by my predecessors.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the famous organist who became a physician and then went to Africa as a medical missionary, once said: “Example is not the best way to influence others; it’s the only way.” So we’re setting an example by restoring Grand Lodge to the right size.
This year we will further reduce the number of Committees. The core pillar committees will be chaired by members of the Management Committee and made up predominantly of the members of the Board of General Purposes. They will use the Strategic Plan, decide what activities and programs we will use, share them with Management, and only then start to recruit the Brethren with the skills needed to implement them. We are going to put the horse in front of the cart.
Those are my goals for Grand Lodge – the practical and the inspirational - to lead by example, and to awaken in your hearts a desire for the great thing that Freemasonry was, and can be again – the once and future thing.
Let’s make it happen.
- David J. Cameron