The sixth in the series of presentations on “Opportunities”
by R. W. Brother Friedhelm Hoffmann
District Deputy Grand Master of South Huron District
Upon his Official Visit to Granton Lodge # 483
5 March 2018
Tonight, I would like to talk about opportunities that Masonry offers to our society and to our fellow man.
I am sure you heard the saying, “what do I get out of this when I join?” This statement does not just apply to masonry, it applies to most parts of our lives spectrum. ‘What is in it for me?’ or ‘What is the deal?’’ Very familiar words that come from our world of business. In order to sustain business, we have to fight hard and work hard. Competition is around the corner waiting for the weakness of another business in order to pick up business from the weaker one. As a business owner you have to wheel and deal all the time in order to stay in the game. (I am sure R.W. Bob Wilhelm will know all about that). It can be stressful and painful at times, but usually when we work hard enough with some smarts and show leadership skills, we can be successful. Our own lives are to some extent part run like a business, too. In order to make ‘ends meet’, we need to show leadership at home, doesn’t matter what circumstances are. There is hardly anyone who doesn’t negotiate for something in order to get the best deal for himself, for his family or for his corporation. For some that comes easier than for others. It is all about finding our opportunities. A missed opportunity in business and life, a missed deal can be a disadvantage. Sometimes it is our own incompetence. We all have strengths and weaknesses. But it is all about having ‘more’ or “being better off”. Our lives are orientated by priorities and it seems that these priorities are usually of a material nature. We love to brag about the deals we achieve and of course less inclined to admit to the ones that hurt us.
It is all about opportunities. The world around us tells us it is our own responsibility to look for these opportunities. Yes, it is! The only question is how to prioritise and evaluate the opportunities we get presented in the course of our lives. In our generation and our children and children’s children, the vast amount of opportunities that is so out of comparison to what our great grand and grandparents had and also our parents or ourselves, it is amazing. When we think about it, then I am surely not wrong to analyze without scientific study that life was simpler and priorities were so much different in the span from our great grandparents to us today. The digital world is developing faster than we can keep up with it. It seems opportunities are growing more and more. But opportunities aren’t just opportunities anymore. The qualification of opportunities in our lives is becoming its own challenging task. The market place wants us to lure in all kinds of opportunities that perhaps, aren’t for us. ‘Opportunity management’ is a new educational segment.
Most of our focus is related to making money. Therefore there is the danger of losing out on other opportunities in life, the ones that keep our lives in peace. Opportunities that were historically the ones with the highest stakes that are more difficult to find today are called: Love, Hope, Faith, Relief, Charity and Truth. The market place today distracts from these opportunities as they imply endorsing a certain morality and morality is not on the Market Agenda. That’s why the markets have, and need, many rules in order to protect those values and opportunities. But as we progress over time, we see a diminishing of these rules. A “free” world that pushes against love, hope, faith, relief, charity and the truth. Sadly, ‘truth’ has got so much deformed, that it became actually a commodity. It has nothing to do with the truth we are promoting in Masonry.
But, there is good news in all this. There are organizations that uphold the truth, uphold true love, hope, faith, relief and charity. Our own Masonic institution is one of them. Yes, we offer to become strong in believing and living principles that seem to be diminishing. Yes! We appear not as a hot market item in this free market, but we carry the fundamentals to uphold a sense of moral and truth. We have the opportunity to ensure our lives include the opportunities of our Masonic principles.
Brethren, if you think that it would not matter for the society whether Masonry is around or not. If we think that churches, Oddfellows, the Salvation Army, Lion’s, Optimists and other organizations that try, in an unspoken unity, (and that includes Masons), to uphold the awareness of the most important opportunities in life, would not matter in society? I think we would be very wrong to think so. In whatever world or system or structure we live in, it does matter. Our principles always show through. And here is an example. No other nation than my own Germany witnessed it in a most drastic way when all principles of the good were abused and thrown out the window in the 30’s and 40’s of the last century. For many of our brethren and people during the Hitler regime it was a dark time and many never saw it all the lies and hate and death until the regime fell apart. During Hitler’s time all organizations were seized except the churches. Masons as you might know, had to meet in underground and when caught instantly were sentenced, most of time, to death. It was a most difficult time to uphold genuine Masonic principles. History is a good example what the brethren at that time did, how much they were capable of working in the underground, praying and just doing good deeds in secrecy. We do not know all their stories but we know that many people are heroes, because they never lost their belief in genuine principles of the truth that construct a sense of morality. Many of them gave their lives for love and truth.
Brethren, we are by all means not in this situation. Thanks be to God! But we can look to them and copy their example of motivation and action.
Our situation today is completely different than 80 years ago. We are in a time where the threat to our principles is coming not necessarily through a regime or war, but through the resignation from the grass roots principles that brought success to our ancestors. The lost opportunities through not having interest is dangerous and can have fatal outcome to our society and to our claimed free world. Why did Masonry in Ontario have 100,000 members in the 50’s and 60’s vs. 40 000 today? Because the previous generation had experienced firsthand what it meant to lose or live with suppressed values and principles. They knew what war and what extremism can do. They knew how important it is to keep the principles that we stand for up. They acted in joining organizations like ours for that reason. Today we are in danger of losing it because we feel too comfortable and secure. We think the principles of morality are looked after by someone else and we do not need to care. We shifted our interest away from it. A completely different threat to our values than we ever experienced in centuries past. A general loss for excitement for principles and values.
Therefore, I would like to encourage you today and call upon you, to think about and to take our principles to heart and make them prominent in our lives, especially in these uncertain times. Take the energy, take the inspiration and let’s take the opportunity and revive our lodges and their work. Let’s put all excuses and anxiety aside! Go through the process of a long term plan and let us be and become that good shining strong light in the East that enlivens and enlightens our world, shows to our world, to our friends and next door neighbours the true truth, with true love, revived hope and the strong faith that brings relief and charity. We can do it. We are capable and we have the tools. Brethren, our craft is more important in our world than ever. We Masons have a lot to offer. Exiting times are before us because we are needed.