The "Generational Divide"
As we move into the season of Grand Annual Communications and new Officer lines, I'm incessantly reminded by the ginormous divide in the makeup of the Brethren within the Craft. Young, inspired Brothers starting their tours of duty in their respective Lodges, and older, wiser Past Masters and staples of the Lodge ready to assist, mentor, and proffer sound advice to these less experienced men at a moment's notice.
Sound too good to be true? You're right, it normally is. Sadly, that is not the case in many places. Some Lodges have an inherent je ne sais quoi, whereby all those Brethren share a common purpose or niche, and the generational divide does not impact the overall vibe and feel of the Lodge. Most lodges share the more common, and unfortunate, experience, where a natural divide in age and wants separate the membership in more ways than one.
Most Lodges do not have a targeted and unified membership; their Lodges consist of many generations of people, most of whom do not initially share common interests and likes. Many of you reading this blog know and experience the sometimes unintended rift in most Lodges: the group of younger Masons sitting together at meals, and the older Brethren sitting apart, in their own little gaggle. This divide becomes more noticeable in the Lodge room, where people sit in their little cliques and groups, usually for the purpose of chatting it up with one another, or to carve out their personal space within a Temple room.
Now, I'm sure many of you will say "that's not how it is in my Lodge," and that's all well and good. Lodges that break this mold should be applauded and praised. You do a fine job of uniting your members, and looking for the things that brought you all together to begin with.
Again, that is more the exception than the rule. Lodges that struggle are most often ones that provide a social venue for gathering, perhaps a meal or two, some quick business, and little else. Lodges with no identity to espouse allow this generational divide to fester and persist until it becomes irreparable, and even toxic to the overall atmosphere of the Lodge.
In my travels, the Lodges that break this paradigm, and possess that consistent and genuine desire for unity are those that have a common theme, purpose, or reason for belonging. It may be a traditional observance Lodge, that demands from its members a more spiritual experience; or a family-centric Lodge that espouses a culture friendly to spouses, significant others, and children whenever possible. An education-oriented Lodge that focuses first and foremost on programs and presentations, or a Lodge whereby all members are profoundly immersed in the meaning and delivery of ritual, are all "focused" places to find like-minded individuals to share in these desired experiences.
Lodges that have a focus, mission statement, or particular niche, will usually enjoy more success, camaraderie, and common purpose than those that do not. The social-club era of Freemasonry has left us with over-sized Lodges, where people can be members of a Lodge and never actually meet in person. Lodges with 200+ people on the roll are not designed to have intimate and highly-personalized interactions. Human culture is not designed for such broad and overreaching intimate relationships. Bonds with people are closer through frequent, repetitive, and stimulating contact.
You don't get that from meetings where you eat apart, sit apart, and have little in common with those around you.
Find that mission, or that purpose, and let that be your battle cry. You will surely find that like-minded people will start to gravitate towards that mission, and your Lodge experience will become more meaningful and purpose-driven as a result.
~ FDTL ~