The North Carolina Mason

March/April 2021

North Carolina Mason

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March/April 2021 The North Carolina Mason Page 5 From the Grand master What came you here to do? By R. David Wicker Jr. Grand Master W hat came you here to do? e obvious sequel to my first article, Whence Came You? However, as I was finishing that article, the events of the day derailed where I was going. at having been addressed, we now return to our regularly scheduled program, already in progress. We all know that Freemasons cannot solicit, recruit, or even invite men to become members of our Fraternity. Every man must come to us of his own free will and accord. As such, we all knock at the door of Freemasonry for a variety of reasons. Some knock at the door seeking knowledge and transformation. Last year, Grand Master Bradshaw shared his story. He told of being raised by his mother and grandmother and having grown up without a father in his home. When his children were born, he came to Freemasonry looking for role models to show him how to be the best father he could be. He sought the knowledge and wisdom of our Craft to help transform him into a better man and a better father. Some come for friendship, fellowship and out of their respect for someone they know or knew to be a Mason. Freemasons should always gather as a group of men who can best work and best agree. ere should never be conflict and disharmony within our lodges. Even though we may disagree, we should never be disagreeable. is allows us to enjoy each other's company when we gather, be it inside or outside of the lodge. We often see this trait in the men we most admire. Perhaps it was your father, your grandfather or someone you looked to as a mentor. Our respect and admiration of these traits, and the men who exhibit them, could be the reason we are led to Freemasonry's door. Others may come out of a desire to be a part of an ancient order and to participate in our ritualist work or in the charitable work we do. Often, we want be a part of something bigger than we are individually. We see Freemasons in our communities helping others through barbeque chicken fundraisers or Brunswick stew sales. Freema- sons participate in Habitat for Humanity to help others have their own home. We sponsor blood drives to help the Red Cross maintain an adequate blood supply. Perhaps they come having learned of our work at the Masonic Home for Children in Oxford or WhiteStone, our retirement community in Greensboro. Within them is a desire to aid others who are distressed. Although our personal motivations for knocking at the door may vary, as long as they are virtuous and pure, why we came is not really the issue. You see, we are never asked why we came here. We are asked what we came here to do. Fortunately, Freemasonry teaches us how we should contemplate the answer to this most important question. As we know, the answer is two-fold. First, we are instructed that we must learn to subdue our passions. In other words, we must learn to control our emotions. Second, we are to improve ourselves in Masonry. e reason this question must be answered in two parts is that we will never be able to improve ourselves in Masonry until we first learn to subdue our passions and control our emotions. In our world today, there are too many who cannot or will not control their passions and emotions. As a result, without even realizing it, they are not in control. Instead, they are being controlled by their own emotions. ose without the ability to control their passions and emotions become susceptible to manipulation by others who use these heightened emotions against them. Anger and hatred are strong, passionate emotions that we must have the ability to subdue. Anger is often exemplified by an extreme dislike and hostility toward someone or something that, in your mind, is wrong. Hatred for someone or something causes us to spend much of the time fixating on our anger. We are contemptous of and have contempt or dislike for that person or that thing. Anger and hatred also have physical and emotional manifestations. ey cause our heart rate and blood pressure to increase. We become irritable, cynical and hypercritical of others. We even become aggressive and violent. It is for these exact reasons that over the course of my career, I have refused to prac- tice in the area of domestic law. ose going through a divorce often bring their toxic atti- tudes into the case and nothing you do or say can make them change. eir decision making is driven only by their desire to hurt the other person. When their anger and hatred is not subdued, they lose the ability to be reasonable and rational. ey would rather make a bad deci- sion and incur a personal loss, so long as that decision causes the other person pain or injury. What is fair, best and wise is overwhelmed by their anger and hatred. ey even exhibit a sense of pleasure and relief knowing their actions may have hurt someone else; even when those same actions may have hurt them as well. So, how do we learn to subdue these passions? ere are a number of techniques, but I would suggest that we first take a mental break and contemplate what we should do or say instead of reacting to the situation that confronts us. Take a moment. Take a breath. Collect your thoughts. Remember, you cannot be smart and mad at the same time. You can be smart or you can be mad, but you can almost never be both. Anger and hatred cloud one's thoughts and abilities to make good decisions. Once you have taken the time to contem- plate what is before you, turn your focus and energy to resolving the issue that is causing the anger. Take heed of the words of the late John Lennon: "ere are no problems, only solutions." If there is something that makes you angry, remember the situation is actually presenting you with an opportunity to make a change for the better. But if you focus only on the problem, the fact that you are angry or that you hate the situation, that is all you will see. As you work to address the situation, remember that forgiveness can be as powerful as the anger and hatred, but in a positive way. It causes the negative and destructive feelings to dissipate and fade away. It allows peace and calm to return. So, be forgiving and just let it go. ■ see WICKER, page 7 Remember, you cannot be smart and mad at the same time. You can be smart or you can be mad, but you can almost never be both.

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