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A WORLD OF PRIORITIES

A WORLD OF PRIORITIES
by Bernes B. Brooks, D.G.M. of Arkansas

This paper was originally presented at the Southwest
Masonic Conference, Dallas, Texas in September
1982, shortly before R.W. Bro. Brooks passed away.
It's original title was "Youth and its Positive Effect
on Freemasonry."

A small percentage of the youth today
knows who are Masons, what they believe, and
the teachings and philosophy of the fraternity.
How could they know when we have, by our
own election, kept ourselves out of the limelight
in our society because we do nothing for which
to be recognized? The younger generation
thinks of Masonry as something to which their
grandfathers belonged, something out of the
past, that must remain in the past because they
see or know of nothing which gives them cause
to think otherwise.

We must stop and realize the vast amount of
knowledge and ability our youth have com-
pared to our own at their age when they ask,
"What is Masonry"? A few indefinite answers
are not acceptable to them. They want to know
true facts with the supporting evidence which
they are entitled to receive. Masonry is not a
secret organization although we have a few
secrets to set us up as a fraternity. When a
Mason is asked about Masonry by a non-
Mason, regardless of age or sex, he should be
willing and eager to tell that person anything he
wants to know-so long as secrets are not reveal-
ed. The majority of Masons, when asked about
Masonry, will not say much because they are
afraid to talk. Most of our brethren need to be
educated to talk freely, without revealing
secrets, when asked about Masonry.

There are many organizations, shows,
games, entertainments, etc. knocking at the
doors of our youth, therefore he must make a
choice as to the best use of his time. This is a
world of priorities -no one can do everything he
wishes. I hope we have taught them to spend
their leisure time wisely and to affiliate with
organizations that are run smoothly and effi-
ciently by competent people with leadership
ability.

What young people know is what they do;
what they are to be, they are now becoming.
They are in their formative years and their
minds are our most fertile soil. There is no such
thing as uninfluenced youth. Bro. J. Edgar
Hoover said the number one target of the Com-
munist is our youth. One of the greatest poten-
tial forces in the world, for our nation and for
our fraternity, is the minds of our young peo-
ple.

All the younger generation really wants is a
life of respectability built upon a sound founda-
tion that can cope with the problems man has
always faced. Masonry offers all of this-we
have failed them and ourselves. The truest role
of Freemasonry is to be of service to God,
country and mankind. This is our role yester-
day, today and in the future, for Freemasonry
does not change. Outside the church, Masonry
has more to offer the younger generation than
any other organization.

Everything that Masonry and mankind can
hope to achieve will depend upon the will-
ingness of men and Masons to work actively on
the "grass roots" level, with individual boys
and girls. To Masons this should mean working
with chapters of DeMolays, Bethels of Job's
Daughters, and assemblies of Rainbow Girls to
develop, by precept, association and example
the mental attitude and moral fiber of our
youth. How many times have Rainbow Girls
and Job's Daughters begged for one Mason to
attend their meeting so they could legally open
for business? Next to the ministry of the gospel,
what is the most honorable job a Mason can
do? Could it be as a Dad or Advisor for a
Masonic youth organization?

There are many bridges between the appen-
dant youth chapters and the bodies of
Masonry. As the bridges become stronger, each
group will increase in strength and our civiliza-
tion will come closer to fulfilling the vision
and hope of a great kingdom of God on earth.

More than half of the DeMolays join the
Masonic Lodge when they become of age.
Many of them have become Grand Masters of
Masonry-many have become famous in civilian
life. Brethren, if we can sell the Rainbow Girls
and Job's Daughters on Masonry, they will br-
ing us many new members by canvassing their
fathers, brothers and future husbands.

The younger generation is not interested in
how much we know, not until they find out
how much we care. They are not as interested in
hearing us as they are in seeing us. They have a
burning desire to find something on which to
hang.

Several jurisdictions have Youth Commit-
tees with active, successful programs. These in-
clude Scholarship programs for youth. A few
Grand Lodges and appendant bodies have
booths at the State and County fairs which have
been well received. They handed out pamphlets
on what we can tell our friends about
Freemasonry and appendant youth chapters.
They felt the younger generation showed the
greatest interest. Some jurisdictions sponsor
such things as essay contests for youth. In
Arkansas the "Alpha Foundation for Youth"
has been organized with legal formalities to
assure that gifts to it will be tax deductible. The
purpose of the foundation is to promote
Masonic youth chapters within the state. An
appendant of the Foundation is the "One Hun-
dred for DeMolay." Members of this group
pay one hundred dollars ($100) each year to the
Foundation, the interest from which goes to
support the DeMolay programs of Arkansas.

Public Masonic meetings such as family af-
fairs, open installations, Masonic funerals,
Cornerstone or Commemorative stone layings,
Masonic dedications, etc., are a very necessary
part of the successful progress of Masonry.
These are our 'show windows.'

We can provide dollars for our youth
organizations and we must do so in greater
amounts than ever before. But the great, real
need, my brethren, is not for one hundred
dollars of your money-it is for one hundred
hours of your time. You see if we become, by
daily association, a part of their lives then we
have every reasonable expectation that when
they reach the years of maturity they will want
to become a part of our heritage.

The number one problem of our Masonic
Lodges and appendant youth chapters is the
lack of adult leadership. The smallest of
DeMolay chapters should have ten or more Ad-
visory Council members who attend each
chapter meeting. We should want to do all we
can all of the time to encourage and guide
young people. This is a part of the philosophy
of Masonry.

We must remember that our hopes for the
perpetuation of Freemasonry, our ideals and
philosophy, rest only in those who come to us
voluntarily. These are prompted to come to us
by having been favorably influenced by the
good deeds and prestige of the fraternity and by
their contacts with Masons. When youth pro-
grams or Masonic Lodges fail or drift it is
because of a lack of leadership and support.
One leader with a vision, enthusiasm and en-
durance can transform a Masonic youth
organization or a Masonic Lodge.

We must cast our bread upon the waters by
proving to our youth that we want to be part of
them. In the years that follow they will want to
be a part of us-they will want a portion of the
heritage which Masonic ideals express.

The future of Masonry will become brighter
and brighter if those who have come under the
influence of Masonic youth appendant chapters
should continue to bring to the Lodges of
Masonry their youth, their inspiration and their
vision.

Freemasonry will meet the challenge of the
future. The greatest asset in Freemasonry is the
spirit of friendship that exists between
Freemasons in their relationships with one
another and their attitude of thoughtfulness for
the welfare of others.