RW Cameron M. Bailey

Deputy Grand Master, The MW Grand Lodge Of Washington

I lost a friend yesterday, a Brother.

Murdered.

Details are a bit sketchy, but it seems that his home was invaded by thugs, seeking to rob him, and when they encountered him they beat him to death.

If they are ever caught, it will probably be plea bargained down to something like assault. It seems that is how things happen far too often now. Serious crimes that actually harm people are punished more lightly than crimes where it is darn hard to ever identify a 'victim.'

I remember many things about my friend. Mostly involving smoking. I'm not addicted to cigarettes, but I do enjoy having one on rare occasions when I'm with a smoker.

Well, he was a guy who loved his cigs. I remember standing outside of plenty of Lodge buildings with him, smoking and talking. Discussions about Masonry, discussions about our mutual friends within the craft.

I remember spending a day with him over in the Tri-Cities, when I was Junior Grand Warden and he was Grand Steward. The rest of the Grand Lodge team headed for home, they forgot us, so we had lots of time together, time in which to discuss, and of course solve, all the problems of the world.

I will badly miss my friend.

He lived well though, for he has died regretted.

We need to recognize that this nation has fallen into barbarism over the past few months. Riots rock Portland every night, Seattle almost every night, and quite frequently Olympia. Watching these things, common thugs, like the ones who murdered my friend are naturally emboldened.

It is funny to me that some deny that these things are actually happening. I've heard said for example that Olympia has had no riots. When I hear that I wonder why then is downtown all boarded up? How can there be so much broken glass if windows haven't been shattered? What are those videos shown on the 11 PM local news depicting if not rioters in Olympia? Can something be called 'peaceful' or 'mostly peaceful' while the fires are burning right behind the commentator making that claim?

Masonry demands that we find the truth.

The truth is that we have two things going on at the same time. We have protests, but we also have riots.

Protests are good, they can make us better as a people. Riots however are nothing but barbarism.

The moment a window is smashed, the moment looting begins, the moment violence is used against another, that is the end of a protest and the beginning of a riot. The actual protesters go home, and the barbarians take over.

Violent thugs are destroying businesses and hurting people in our cities, just as violent thugs murdered my friend.

Civil society can not tolerate violent thugs. They need to be locked away from society, kept where they can no longer do harm.

The Weimar Republic fell because the government was unable or unwilling to deal with roving bands of thugs doing violence in the streets. During this time of nightly violence, we should all reflect on what happened back then, and realize how easily it could happen here if we are not careful. As the old saying goes, if we don't learn from history, we are bound to repeat it.

Throughout its long existence, Freemasonry has stood as the world's great peace society. Teaching tolerance between all men. Freemasons stand for peace, for civility, for honor, and for justice.

As Freemasons, we must, each in our own spheres of influence, use that influence to encourage civility, civil dialog, and a just civil society.

Those are the things my friend and brother stood for.

#Civility #CivilSociety #Barbarism

-Cameron

Cameron M. Bailey Deputy Grand Master The MW Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington

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Most Freemasons are probably familiar with the Chamber of Reflection. Unfortunately, very few, in our Jurisdiction at least, get to experience it as a part of receiving their Degrees.

In my view, having space and time in which to reflect on one's life thus far, to consider parts of one's self that should be improved, and to be reminded that the time within which change can be made is short, is a vital part of the initiatory experience.

A handful of Lodges in Washington do make the effort to provide time within the Chamber of Reflection to the candidate prior to his Degrees thus giving the candidate at least the opportunity to seize what can be an extremely meaningful experience. It is my hope that as time moves on, more of our Lodges will dedicate the needed space to this, and begin including it as a part of their candidate preparation process.

Looking beyond our Lodges, I think that this is something that many Masons might want to consider as a regular part of life.

Certainly it is important to remind oneself that life is short, and that the time to do that which we seek to do is extremely limited.

It is important that we honestly take stock of ourselves, and our life, so that we might identify those things about ourselves that disappoint us, and hopefully make a commitment to ourselves to amend ourselves.

Finally, it is always important that we consider our future, and who we want to become, internally as well as externally.

Perhaps we build ourselves our own physical Chamber of Reflection, in the historical model.

Or, perhaps we create something different, something that better reflects our own personalities.

The traditional Chamber largely utilizes symbolism that Freemasonry inherited from Alchemy. Other traditions with other reminders of the inevitability of death exist and can be mined for their own truths as well.

For those of us seeking more light in Masonry, might I suggest that a little darkness may help?

#ChamberOfReflecton #MementoMori #Light

-Cameron

Cameron M. Bailey Deputy Grand Master The MW Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington

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In 1897 the Grand Lodge of Washington, at it's Annual Communication, and following the leadership of RW William H. Upton took the first small step towards recognition of Prince Hall Masonry within this Grand Jurisdiction.

As a result of that step, Grand Lodges around the country moved to pull recognition from our Grand Lodge. Many old Proceedings from Grand Jurisdictions are available online, I've read some of those from the time, and the things that were said about the GL of Washington and its decision were truly horrible.

In the words of Grand Master Upton himself: “The comity and consideration for the opinions of others shown by the Washington committee and Grand Lodge were neither appreciated nor reciprocated. During the year, in a number of Grand Lodges, the position of this Grand Lodge has been savagely attacked, often in language disgraceful to Masonry. Men whose utterances fail to disclose even a superficial acquaintance with either the history or the law of the subject, have presumed to sit as judges in condemnation of this Grand Lodge; and Grand Lodges have usurped a supervisory power over our actions which, if acquiesced in, means not only the destruction of the sovereignty of this Grand Lodge, but the end of that principle of self-government among Masons which has been claimed as a cornerstone of our Institution since the dawn of its history.”

Eventually the Grand Lodge of Washington decided that its position was impossible. Masons from Washington were no longer recognized as such by our neighbors, and as such the decision of our Grand Lodge was untenable. We relented to the unreasonable, and unmasonic pressure put upon us by the rest of the Masonic world.

Our Grand Master never stopped advocating for recognition, and was always held in very high esteem by the Freemasons of Washington. In fact we have a Lodge named after him to this day.

Despite that fact however, and despite the wishes of the Masons of Washington, The MW Grand Lodge of Washington and the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction were not joined in mutual recognition until 1990. When the rest of the Masonic world would finally allow us to take this step without destroying us.

In 1991 a marker was finally laid on Grand Master Upton's grave. Something he declared that he did not want to happen until it could be laid by members of both Grand Lodges. His dream had finally been realized.

Tomorrow the Masonic funeral of our Brother and Congressman John Lewis will take place. The service will be performed by the members of his Home Lodge in Georgia.

Specifically, his Prince Hall Lodge.

To be clear, the MW Grand Lodge of Georgia continues to refuse to recognize the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia.

In the words of our Brother Chris Hodapp of Freemasons for Dummies fame: “In May of 2008, then-Grand Master Akram Elias of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia honored John Lewis for his lifelong commitment to civil rights. This ceremony took place as part of the 9th World Conference of Masonic Grand Lodges at the Renaissance Washington D.C. Hotel. It is no small irony that Lewis' own grand lodge, the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia, was not then, and is not today, recognized as regular by the 50 U.S. 'mainstream' state grand lodges, including the Grand Lodge of Georgia. Masonic protocol dictated then as now that he could not have accepted GM Elias' presentation in open lodge as a Brother Mason. Nothing has changed in a dozen years. And there's no way to defend that situation any longer.”

Put in plain terms, one of the finest men and Masons of his generation is not recognized as such by the Grand Lodge of Georgia due to the color of his skin.

I think that due to my position I am not supposed to say difficult truths. I am to be measured and calm. Perhaps this post oversteps proper form for an elected Grand Lodge Officer.

Too bad. It is true, and as Freemasons we are charged with finding the truth.

It is absurd that the Grand Lodge of Washington continues to recognize the Grand Lodge of Georgia as a legitimate Masonic body.

The Grand Lodge of Washington should take steps to remove recognition from the Grand Lodge of Georgia, and all other Grand Lodges that do not recognize their legitimate counterparts.

By continuing to recognize the Grand Lodge of Georgia as a legitimate Masonic body we are giving tacit approval to that body's immoral position and rightly open ourselves to condemnation.

I made this view clear prior to my election as Junior Grand Warden when asked about it at a forum held by Daylight Lodge, and given the passing of Brother Lewis I feel it only proper to make it known again now.

#PrinceHall #Georgia

-Cameron

Cameron M. Bailey Deputy Grand Master The MW Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington

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I think we are all aware that the origins of Freemasonry are lost to the mist of time. While speculation about the birth of our fraternity abounds, it is quite likely that we will never know the truth.

The most popular origin story seems to be that there existed in the British Isles various guilds of operative Masons. That in time these guilds took in men who were not in the construction trade, but who rather used the tools of the builder for spiritual lessons. That when these speculative Masons eventually outnumbered the operative Masons in the Lodges, our Fraternity as we now know it was born.

There are a number of problems with this theory in my view, not the least of which being why men of noble birth would want to hang out with men who worked with their hands for a living. Especially at a time when society was strongly and perpetually divided by class.

Another theory, which most believe was forwarded only in recent decades by a man named John Robinson is that our Fraternity was crafted as a mutual aid society by the remnants of the Templar Order in Scotland after the knights were decimated by the King of France, Phillip the Fair.

Mr. Robinson wrote a book titled Born in Blood outlining this theory in detail.

What is much lesser known however is that Mr. Robinson is not the first person to write about this theory. Indeed this origin theory is extremely old, as evidenced by the following quote:

“It is supposed that when the Order of Templars was suppressed and the individuals persecuted, some of them secreted themselves in the High Lands of Scotland and that from them, either arose, or that they united themselves to the society of Free Masons, of which the Kings of Scotland were supposed to be hereditary Grand Masters. From this principal the present Pretender has let himself be persuaded that the Grand Mastership devolved to him, in which quality, in the year 1776, he granted a patent to the Duke of Ostrogothia (who was then here) by which he appointed him vicar of all the Lodges in the north, which that prince sometime after resigned. Nevertheless, the King of Sweden during his stay obtained a patent from the Pretender in due form by which he has appointed his Swedish Majesty his Coadjutor and Successor to the Grand Mastership of the Lodges of the north, on obtaining which the French Gentleman assured me that the King expressed his greatest joy.” -Horrace Mann, British Ambassador in Forence December 30, 1783 In a letter to John Udny, British Consul at Leghorn

#History #TemplarOrigin #Quote

-Cameron

Cameron M. Bailey Deputy Grand Master The MW Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington

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Last week I heard a Brother ask the question:

Since our Lodges aren't meeting, we aren't able to 'do' Masonry. If that goes for a year, or most of a year, why should we have to pay Lodge dues or Grand Lodge assessments?

The basic argument was that Masons aren't getting Masonry during this time, so shouldn't be asked to pay for Masonry.

The Brother's question made no sense to me. I guess that he and I have had very different experiences with Masonry these past few months.

To my mind, Masonry is everywhere right now!

Our Lodges have older and sicker members for whom the virus is of great danger. Hopefully we have all reached out to these Brothers. Doing so is certainly an expression of Masonry.

Our Lodges have Brothers who have lost their jobs and are facing great financial hardship. Washington Masonic Charities is raising money to help, and getting that help where it is needed. That is certainly a strong expression of Masonry, and something our individual Lodges can be doing right now as well.

Lodges, Districts, and Grand Lodges are holding Masonic education video conference meetings. The most interesting Masonic educational discussion I've taken part in in years was held over Zoom by our own District 8. I've always been interested in feminine Freemasonry, so thanks to the Grand Lodge of California I was able to enjoy a long presentation by a female Grand Master. This week I know that some of the Masons I'm close with are going to be attending an educational event hosted by the Grand Lodge of New York. Not a week goes by, almost not a day goes by, that doesn't have one or more of these events.

Many of us enjoy fun side degrees. The Railroad Degree, the Loggers Degree, Shipbuilders, and Pirates all seem popular in our Jurisdiction. Well, I received a side degree via Zoom too, it was great fun.

Lodges and Grand Lodges are hosting regular toasts to build fellowship and to remember our absent Brothers.

For quite literally hundreds of years very well respected Masonic scholars have pointed out that Masons aren't much into actually reading about Freemasonry. Well, we have libraries of books all available. What a great opportunity this pandemic is for us to actually read about our Fraternity, no matter what our interest in it is.

Brothers are creating Masonic blogs, videos, and podcasts at a breakneck pace.

In my opinion there is more Freemasonry available right now than at any previous time. All one must do is take a look to find it. To believe that there is no Masonry simply because we are not able to hold Stated Meetings is a badly false belief.

#Dues #VideoConference #MasonicEducation #SideDegrees #WashingtonMasonicCharities #Pandemic

-Cameron

Cameron M. Bailey Deputy Grand Master The MW Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington

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In my last post I talked about how important it is for a leader to both hold and communicate a vision to those around him. You can read that post here.

In this post I'll be writing about one of the ways in which a leader can lose this essential vision, even without realizing that it is being lost.

As leaders we badly run the risk of losing our vision if we get overly caught up in the details of the day to day operations of our Lodge or other organization. This is because in order to properly utilize vision, it must be held at the forefront of our minds. If however we are so focused on side issues and little details, those things move to the front of our minds, and vision gets lost somewhere in the back, with all the clutter.

At the Lodge level, if we are Worshipful Master, I suggest that we don't need to be intimately involved with our charity and scholarship funds, rather we can let 'Bob' know what our vision is for those funds, and trust him to take care of things. We don't need to plan our annual camping trip/retreat, rather we can let 'Alan' know what our vision is for that weekend and let him plan it.

These are just a couple quick examples, but the principal holds true across all activities of the Lodge.

We need to communicate our vision for the Lodge to our Brothers, and then step back and let them help us achieve that vision. If we can't step back and feel that we must control everything, well then we will lose that vision because we will become consumed by meaningless details.

We see this I think in Grand Lines as well. A new fellow gets elected and has a vision of where he would like to see our Fraternity go. Very quickly though that vision is consumed by meaningless details. He's spending countless hours a week on the highway, sitting in meetings discussing property the Grand Lodge owns, sitting in other meetings talking about the stock market. Still more meetings discussing charitable efforts. Eventually he becomes Grand Master and whatever vision for the future, whatever help he was going to provide our Fraternity is dead and buried, buried under a mountain of details because he never was able to trust his Brothers enough to let go. Or, he didn't feel that he could let go given the expectations of the Masons of his Jurisdiction.

To be successful leaders we must have a vision, we must be able to hold that vision first in our minds, and we must be able to communicate that vision. If we can't do all three of those things we will fail in our duty to lead. Therefore, we must guard against putting too much focus on those things that would tend to overwhelm our vision. If we can do this, we can have a great year in the East.

#Leadership #Lodge #Vision #GrandLine

-Cameron

Cameron M. Bailey Deputy Grand Master The MW Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington

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As Freemasons those of us who desire leadership have that opportunity. We can have the tremendous honor of becoming a leader of men by becoming Worshipful Master of our Lodges.

Title and position however, no matter how lofty, do not make a man a leader. Position is simply a place, title is only words.

What actually makes a man a leader is having at least one other person who is willing to follow where he leads. It is impossible to be a leader without having followers in turn.

It is I think important to ask, what makes a leader? What makes a man become someone who other men want to follow?

I argue that the answer to that question is vision.

In order to lead, a leader must hold a vision of where he wants his Lodge to be in the future, and of equal importance, he must be able to communicate that vision to the members of his Lodge.

If he either lacks vision, or can't communicate that vision, then the members of his Lodge can't follow him, if for no other reason than the fact that they won't know where they are headed, or where their efforts should be directed.

What this means for those of us who lead our Lodges, or who plan on leading a Lodge is that we must spend some time figuring out exactly where we think our Lodge should be in the future, and plot out at least a few initial steps that can be taken to get the Lodge there.

What it also means is that we can't just bounce from our Installation to our first Stated Meeting as Worshipful Master. Rather we must sit down with the members of our Lodge, at the very least the key members of our Lodge, and we must explain our vision for the Lodge to them in the most complete manner possible.

By doing so, the members of our Lodge can help us to achieve our vision.

By neglecting to do so, we have little to no chance of success during our time in the East.

Standing in the East we have no greater duty than to hold a vision for our Lodge, and communicate that vision to our members.

Why?

Because a single bad year can and does decimate a Lodge when it happens.

A Lodge can go along very well for years, improving a bit with each passing year until it is ticking along at a superb level. Providing education, providing fellowship, growing. That is the work of years, the next year all of that work can be destroyed.

I've unfortunately experienced that exact thing in one of my Lodges. If you've been a Mason long enough, you probably have seen it too. You have probably also seen that it takes years of good leadership to repair the damage done during a single bad year.

This cycle can be crushing to a Lodge.

The good news is that the cycle can be prevented. We prevent it by holding a vision for our Lodge's future, and communicating that vision to our members. If we do that, we are actually leading our Lodge, and we will be assured of a good year in the East, for our Brothers will be there to assist us. With the help and support of the members of our Lodge, we can not fail.

#Leadership #Lodge #Vision

-Cameron

Cameron M. Bailey Deputy Grand Master The MW Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington

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Due to the pandemic, many Masonic leaders, including me have attempted to continue engaging with the Fraternity through means other than our regular meetings and events.

This blog is just one such example.

Written essays, videos, podcasts, through all of these means a great deal of high quality content is being created. Just today I saw a superb video created by one of the leaders of my Scottish Rite Valley.

When we consume this Masonic content, I think it is important for us to remember that no one man speaks for Freemasonry.

Freemasonry is a worldwide Brotherhood enjoyed by men of every nation and creed. Certainly such diverse men will hold a great diversity of opinion. Beyond that every Mason has a right to, and does indeed hold his own unique view of what Freemasonry is to him.

Freemasonry means one thing to me, it means something different to my friend and Brother VW Larry Foley. Given that Masonry means something a bit different to each of us, it follows that when communicating about it, we might well communicate about different things, and in different ways.

All of this is a long way of saying that when we read a Masonic essay, or watch a Masonic video, or listen to a podcast, we need to remember that it is perfectly OK for us to disagree. No matter what position the man who created it holds.

Properly we should accept that which we believe to be true, for ourselves, and reject that which we find, upon reflection, to be false.

Through my years as a Mason I have slowly created what has become a fairly large, extremely high quality Masonic book collection. All of that has resulted in a great deal of Masonic reading, over quite a few years now.

Back when I was a brand spankin new EA, one of the very first things I read, and I've never forgotten, is the following passage from Albert Pike in which he made the same point I have tried to make above. I am pleased to commend it to you.

“Every one is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound.” -Morals and Dogma

That precept by Brother Pike has been of tremendous value to me in my reading as I have continued my own quest for Masonic Light.

#ThisBlog #AlbertPike #MoralsAndDogma

-Cameron

Cameron M. Bailey Deputy Grand Master The MW Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington

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It's getting to be that time of year again.

Statements of Availability from those interested in becoming the next Junior Grand Warden are due on September 1.

Prior to that, on August 1 we will be hosting a video conference to explain a bit about the requirements of the positions, and answering any questions. If you are interested in making yourself available please just contact the Grand Secretary, he will hook you up with the information for the call.

With this post, I thought that I'd pass along a few things that I wish I knew before I took the plunge.

-You can still be working and effectively serve as a Grand Lodge Elected Officer. While traditionally these posts have most often been filled by retired folks, that has been changing. Right now both of our Wardens and I are all still employed.

-You will need a very good car. When I first made myself available it was suggested to me that I needed to buy a new car. I thought that advice probably not correct, I take exceptional care of my cars. Alas, within about three months my wife and I bought a new car. You will put on tens of thousands of miles per year, both while available, and following election.

-I was also told that it would cost me 100,000 dollars between the four years as an elected Officer and the year one was available. While it is certainly correct that there are very significant costs to these positions, know that some of those costs are well within your control. Accepting invitatons for events outside of the Jurisdiction will become very expensive very fast. Keeping those things under control will cut costs substantially. My personal costs will not reach the above figure. I hesitate to post personal financial information in this forum, but if you are considering making yourself available, and would like to talk about the actual expenses I have incured, I would be happy to talk with you. Please just feel free to reach out to me.

-In my view, one needs an active and involved lady in order to pull the terms off well. The Grand Lodge Ladies work very hard assisting in the larger events held each year, and I can't imagine trying to do these things without the support and help of my lady.

All in all, I've been on this particular journey for a bit more than three years now. I've found it to be wholly positive. If you have ever considered it, I advise that you make the leap and get your Statement of Availability in prior to September 1.

#GrandLodge #GrandLodgeElectedOfficers

-Cameron

Cameron M. Bailey Deputy Grand Master The MW Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington

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“Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” -Brother George Washington

When I was a youngster, back in high school, way back in the mid 1980's, we were taught in school, quite a bit actually, about our then enemy, the Soviet Union.

We were taught that one of the most evil things about this evil empire was the fact that it intentionally turned neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, and family member against family member by encouraging everyone to become a snitch. By encouraging everyone to turn in anyone who disagreed with the orthodoxy of the state.

35 years ago, the State of Washington's public schools were teaching students that it was evil to look for excuses to turn ones neighbors, friends, or family members into the government for perceived crimes.

Only 35 years ago.

Today, our government, at all levels, is using the pandemic as an excuse to encourage all citizens to turn in their neighbors who might be violating governmental mandates made in the name of pandemic response. Our government today is encouraging our citizenry into becoming a nation of snitches. Encouraging our citizenry to turn rat and snitch on neighbors, friends, family members. Encouraging our citizenry to do precicely that which was condemned as evil just 35 years ago.

Let us be clear. Freemasonry strives to unite all men into the Fraternal bonds of Brotherhood.

Government snitching programs do directly the oposite. These programs seek to divide men, to make them secretive and furitive, to convince them to spy upon their neighbors.

As is known by all, Freemasonry does not involve itself with partisan politics. It does however stand for free government and liberty. Indeed it must do so, for it has been outlawed and supressed by every totalitarian regeme that has ever come to power. (Castro's Cuba being the sole exception that proves the rule.)

We, as individual Masons, during this scary time, must look for ways to aid and assist our neighbors. To (figuratively at least) extend the hand of Brotherhood and fellowship to all of those around us. We must stand for universal Benevolence and Fraternity.

We must not seek excuses to begin viewing our neighbors, or our Brothers with suspicion.

#Pandemic #Brotherhood #Liberty

-Cameron

Cameron M. Bailey Deputy Grand Master The MW Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington

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