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Masonic Ego - Positive Or Negative ?

John W. "Jack" Dean III, 33

In March 1950 I was entered into my first Masonic
Light in Frankford Lodge No. 292 of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This was the
beginning of my Masonic education and experiences. During the next forty years
I observed, learned, worked, held office, conferred all three Blue Lodge
Degrees, and arrived at certain conclusions about our beloved Fraternity and
its Appendant and Concordant Bodies.

The first conclusion I reached was that change comes
slowly not because our leaders at the top cannot envision it, but because our
past officers are resistant and suspicious of change.

The second conclusion is that we have allowed the
quality of our membership to decline. There are so many reasons for this
development that I shall not attempt to address them here.

This decline in quality has resulted at all levels in
less tolerance for instruction of the membership and often friction
between the Bodies. It has always been a fact that as the quality of leadership
declines, the tendency to show authority increases. This means the leader has
allowed his ego to get out of reasonable control.

I know that it is difficult for many of our Brothers
to accept the fact that they are egotists; however, I would point out to all
my Brothers that ours is an ego-driven organization. If it were not for ego, we
would have no leaders.

George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, and
all the leaders of the world have been egotists. The secret to fraternal
Brotherhood is controlling one's ego.

We have, from time to time, experienced frictions
between some of our members and some of our Masonic Bodies. A good many of these
have been the result of someone defending what he believes to be his authority, his "turf."

It is when this happens that we must all step back and
examine our positions.

In all of our Masonic Bodies, we have an altar where each of us has
learned his lessons of brotherhood, love, tolerance, and
relief. At this same altar, we all took an oath to place an arm
around a Brother and give him due and timely notice of all approaching
problems or dangers.

Every Masonic Body adopts rules for the orderly
transactions of the Lodge, Chapter, Council, Commandery, Scottish Rite Body,
Shrine, Grotto, Forest, etc. These rules are all known by
different names, but regardless of its name, it should be kept in mind
that its purpose is to help us run and promote our Fraternity. If any
individual Mason or Masonic group causes friction and disharmony,
then the situation should be changed from within the ranks of the
relevant group since its leaders or members are not serving the purposes for
which the group exists.

I have observed that some of our Bodies, at all levels, have gotten so
wrapped up with their rules that they have forgotten the teachings that
we learned at the altar.

I pose the questions from time to time:

"Am I worshipping the rules and
forgetting the lessons of Freemasonry?

Is what I am doing because of my
ego?

Is my action consistent with our Masonic teachings?"

Brethren, I submit to you that existing problems are
not problems between the Bodies, but problems between individuals, problems
that could all be healed and totally eliminated if we read our rules correctly, consistently, and with our
fundamental Masonic principles in mind. Too often, however, the one
problem blocking the way to harmony and progress is ego!

If we ask these questions of ourselves before we act,
I wonder how much disharmony there would be. In my opinion, there would
be little or none. Rather, as spelled out in the Rituals
of all Bodies, we would see what can be accomplished when good men
strive together with no contention, except the noble contention, or rather
emulation, of who best can work and best agree.

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