S. Kenneth Baril
VOLUNTEERING AND RESPONSIBILITY
The Webster dictionary defines the word volunteer as, “one who enters into or offers himself for any service of his own free will and accord.” It also defines the word responsibility as, “a moral, legal or mental accountability, something for which one is responsible.” On many occasions, we hear the remark, “this is a volunteer organization.”
Many a Master has made that statement when the time comes for him to give constructive criticism to an officer because a degree was not exemplified as well as it should be, an officer was not as proficient as he could be, a lecture was not given properly, he has not studied sufficiently for his participation in the degree or his lack of attendance at the prescribed rehearsals. Think of the times we heard someone say,” we cannot come down too hard on him because this is a volunteer organization.” Nothing, my brothers, is further from the truth! I make this statement because a man cannot “volunteer” to become a Mason. HE MUST BE RECOMMENDED!
When and if a vacancy in the line of officers occurs, the Master, Senior Warden or Junior Warden may recommend a particular brother to fill that vacancy. It is now the Master’s responsibility to ascertain if this brother is the right one for the position he is being considered for. More damage can be done to the line of officers and to the lodge if a brother is asked to take a position in the line just to have a warm body sitting in a particular chair.
Once the Master has determined that the brother being considered will be beneficial to the line of officers and his lodge, he should then inquire if he would contemplate becoming a line officer. At this point he must be fully informed of the duties and responsibilities of that office, his obligation to answer and obey all due signs and summonses relating to his participation at rehearsals, and his regular attendance in lodge. If this brother accepts, he is then appointed or elected.
Once he has taken his oath of office and is installed, volunteering ends and the assuming of responsibility begins! He has now become an integral working member of a Masonic team. He is now obligated to carry out the responsibilities of his office or station. If, after being evaluated at regular intervals, his performance is less than acceptable, he must be diplomatically informed he is not performing his duties nor assuming his responsibility seriously enough for the position he has accepted.
If the situation does not improve this brother is no longer an asset to the line of officers or the lodge. He has now become a liability. He now must be informed he will not be progressing in the line to the next position, because at this point, can the Master really depend on this brother to discharge the duties of his office faithfully? Allowing this brother to continue causes embarrassment not only to the brother in question, but also to the lodge. Why waste the lodges’ and the brothers’ time?
The Salvation Army is made up of approximately 82 per cent volunteer workers. When we see one of those volunteers standing in the icy, cold weather during the Christmas Season, guarding that little red kettle, they are not there because of an hourly wage but because they want to be there. The fact they are a volunteer or a paid worker is totally irrelevant. The fact they are volunteers does not justify them from ignoring their responsibility. If they vacate their post without permission, or do not put in the prescribed amount of time that is delegated to that particular post, they are reprimanded or even dismissed.
The Special Olympics is also comprised of approximately 91 per cent volunteers. If a volunteer fails to accept his or her responsibilities the quality of the games will be jeopardized. If the assuming of those responsibilities decrease, the athletes themselves suffer. If the volunteers do not abide by the rules and regulations laid down by the Olympic Committee, they are also reprimanded or even dismissed.
A Boy Scout leader; another VOLUNTEER! If the Scout leader cannot perform the duties of his office everyone in that troop suffers. He is not getting paid for that job, but does that mean he can neglect his responsibilities? Does the fact he is a volunteer lessen his responsibility to the members of that troop? If a Scout leader does not perform his duties properly, we all know he will be asked to leave, VOLUNTEER OR NOT! Imagine, if you will, how American history would have changed if all the men and women who had “volunteered” for the Armed Forces during all the wars the United States has been involved in, decided that because they “volunteered” for military service, they would not have to accept and carry out the responsibilities they were given. They volunteered because they knew a job had to be done and they were the ones who were going to do it! Each of these brave individuals accepted the responsibility that went with that job. Do you think that our great country would be the same today if they evaded the performance of their obligation?
Now some may argue these military personnel receive wages for their service, and that is correct, but, my brothers, so do the secretary and treasurer of our lodges. Does that mean they can neglect their responsibility to that office and to the lodge? Certainly not! Certain jobs have to be performed and certain brothers will perform them and accepting responsibility is attached to those jobs. To go a step further, let’s discuss our District Deputy’s. They are appointed by the Grand Master to assume that position. They may be considered a “volunteer” but by assuming that position, THEY TAKE ON RESPONSIBILITIES! I am fully aware that because they belong to what some may consider a “volunteer organization,” these DD’s cannot disregard those responsibilities. If they do not accept their responsibilities seriously, if they do not perform their duties faithfully, nor fulfill the obligations of their office, there is absolutely no doubt their term of office will not be very long.
Whether individuals are volunteers or paid workers they must accept the responsibilities and are obligated to perform the duties of the office they have accepted. Whether they are paid or not they should be relieved if the job is not done properly and their responsibilities and obligations are not carried out.
The statement that the Masonic Fraternity is a volunteer organization is false! If the individual brother is not made fully aware of what his duties are, what his responsibilities and obligations are for the position he has accepted, and what is expected of him, no function within the Masonic Lodge will be performed properly. I fully realize this course of action can and will create problems for the lodge. But, my brothers, isn’t it more beneficial to the lodge and to the candidate to have a qualified brother fill an opening in the line than to jeopardize the proficiency of the ritual work?
We must bear in mind, that on a degree night, the most important person in our lodge room is THE CANDIDATE! It is totally unjust to exemplify a degree for our candidates if it is not performed to perfection!! WE MUST CONSTANTLY STRIVE TO NEVER ACCEPT LESS!!!
Written by S. Kenneth Baril (Date Unknown)