Monday, April 28, 2008

Royal White Hart Law of 1765 Ammnedment to the CODE


There are several amendments to the CODE being proposed at the upcoming 2008 session of Grand Lodge which are fodder for deep discussion. I’ll try to touch on a few of them before we meet in September. As such, one of the proposed amendments to the CODE which we will vote on at Grand Lodge 2008 is one which will allow the opportunity for each individual Lodge to make a change to their by-laws when in comes to balloting on any issue that requires white balls v/s black cubes.

If passed, it will allow each subordinate lodge to change their by-laws to include a provision known as the “Royal White Hart Law of 1765”.

The “Royal White Hart Law of 1765” was first uncovered by the historian who recorded our first 50 years, and recorded it in “Launching the Craft.” (see The RWH Law of 1765 was published in the Royal White Hart Lodge by laws of that period.

In a nut shell, the way it will work is if there are two of fewer black cubes dropped during balloting on a candidate, the Master of Lodge will ask the brother(s) who dropped the black cube(s) to stand and state their reasons for doing so. If they stand, (and I say “if” here) and state their reasons, then the eligible lodge members present will vote, by a show of hands on the validity of the reasons stated. If a majority of the members present find the reasons valid, the vote shall stand. Remember, a show of hands works on the simple majority principal (51% majority). If the brother(s) who dropped the single or two cubes refuses to stand and state their reasons, then their ballots are nullified.

I try to look at the pro’s and con’s of any important issue which comes up. I want to share my thoughts on this issue. First of all, I wish to point out and emphasize that by voting for this, it does not require each and every lodge to follow the rules set forth in the royal White Hart Law of 1765.

Let’s first examine the negative side if a lodge should consider if they decide to adopt it. There could be the possibility of a brother having to embarrass himself should he be required to stand and state his reason(s) for dropping the black cube. Hypothetically thinking here, consider “Mr. AB” has sometime in the past had a extra-marital affair with the wife of “Brother CD.” This information is not public knowledge, as “Brother CD” and his wife were able to work things out and kept it a secret. Now it comes to pass that “Mr. AB” petitions the lodge where Brother CD is a member. “Brother CD” can’t excuse himself from balloting, and he must decide whether to ballot with a black cube or a white ball. Balloting with the white ball could be a true sign of forgiveness, but by balloting with the black cube “Brother CD” faces the possibility of bringing embarrassment upon himself among his brothers by having to disclose this dark era in his life. Brothers if the latter happens, I truly and most sincerely hope we can and will “keep the secrets of a Worthy Brother Master Mason.”

Now, to consider the other side of the coin - GRUDGE VOTING. How many times have you singed a petition only to see it rejected for one black cube? We never really know who dropped the black cube, and in all reality we may have a suspect in mind. But we must remember the person who has done this, HAS THAT RIGHT, no matter how disappointed we may feel. How often do we suspect black cubes are used as “grudge” votes against the officers of the lodge? Has the use of the black cube been used to prevent someone of a particular political party from joining - I would dare say, “Yes”. How often does an individual come to you, the one who signed his petition and say, “Was so-and-so there? I didn’t figure I would get past him because my grand-pappy and his grand-pappy got into a fight in the third grade over a game of marbles and our families haven’t gotten along since!” I personally know of one individual who has petitioned my lodge several times but never got it. I’ve always suspected he didn’t get due to the nature of his job which required him to make some very difficult decisions that affected many. Should he ever become a brother among us, he would make a great Master Mason. By adopting the “Royal White Hart Law of 1765, “ lodges may slow down “grudge” voting.

In either of the above arguments, we should always remember that when we stand before the alter and the ballot box, we are judging whether this individual could become “a true a faithful brother among us.” We should also consider that we are voting “for the good of Masonry” and “voting to make good men better.” Keeping those two great ideas in mind, we should base our decisions on issues which would constitute Masonic Offenses against someone who is already a member of the craft, and not petty grudges.

This proposal to the changes of the by-laws comes to us by a lodge which is currently experiencing a period where almost every person who petitions is being rejected, and it is not only hurting the growth of that particular lodge, it reflects on our entire fraternity. As you know, many lodges in our great fraternity (including some in this area) have experienced spells where no one was able to get voted in.

Remember, by voting for this change, it does not allow the individual lodges to invoke the “Royal White Hart Law of 1765” whenever they wish; it will allow subordinate lodges to add to their by-laws, which take time to change. Plus, as I stated before, it does not require each and every lodge to follow the rules set forth in the royal White Hart Law of 1765, only those who choose to adopt it into their by-laws. We will not vote on this issue as whether our individual lodge(s) are in favor of the old law, but we are voting on the ability for lodges who wish to change their by-laws in order to promote growth and prevent grudge votes to do so.

As I mentioned before, this is “fodder for discussion” so please add your thoughts and feelings on the proposed amendment, and how it will help of affect your lodge should it pass and your lodge decides to adopt it. This blog site is for everyone, so please join in on the discussions




Derek Cheek said...

I can definately see a time and place where the amendment would help a Lodge. Grudge voting comes and goes in every lodge....and it NEVER helps us. Just having the by-law in place would deter anyone from dropping a frivilious balck cube. I hope we can hear more from other Brothers concerning this. Derek.

Andy Liakos said...

If I read this amendment correctly, that the brother dropping the black cube can either then stand and make his case, which would be fair to him as well as the rest of the brothers, and truly be for the good of Masonry, or, if it really is a grudge case, then he need not stand, thus exposing himself to that embarassment, and then the potential initiate can receive a fair vote by all others, again being for the good of Masonry. This would appear to be a very good, and well thought out solution to a ridiculous scenario...