I will be the first to admit that I have and will always have revolutionary tendencies. Not only am I of Irish decent but first and foremost I am an American and with that comes an inclination to revolt. Revolution is in our collective national DNA as Americans, whether or not our families were here during "The Revolution" (mine were back in Ireland farming, but probably revolting in one form or another).
For my friends across the pond I am referring to the American War for Independence.
From an early age I was raised on fighting for my rights, it was taught to me by my family and in my schools. I was given a steady diet of Boston Tea Party's, Whiskey Rebellion's, Uprisings, Martyrs and Hero's from my boyhood on and I loved every bit of it. It is who I am.
Many of my friends and relatives were quite surprised when at the age of 17 years I decided to enlist in the Navy. I remember one of my Irish cousins back in the old country telling me he hated anyone in uniform, even me, if I were to join the establishment. That part of my family being in the North of Ireland was not to fond of uniformed servicemen. Even my father tried to tell me that if I wanted to join the service to go to college first and become an officer because he knew I would have a problem taking orders from everyone, but at the wise age of 17, I knew better of course, and enlisted anyway.
I never for one minute will ever regret any decision I have ever made in my life because I am a firm believer in going with the flow. I have always made decisions based upon my instincts, regardless of what others may say and it has served me well, even though it has gotten me into trouble now and again. My boot camp company was nearly disbanded after a failed mutiny attempt by me and some buddies that thought our Recruit Chief Petty Officer (recruit leader appointed by the Company Commander[drill instructor]) who was a former Army guy who could not call cadence or orders and ruined an inspection for our company.
We were not disbanded but I learned a very important lesson in teamwork and leadership after countless push-ups and other physical punishment. Our Company Commander explained to us "HMS Bounty" sailors that instead of trying to take out our R.C.P.O. with a petition, like we tried, (yeah, I know a petition sounds pretty lame now but it was almost the end of my navy boot camp career) we should have taken the time to make our shipmate better. He explained that sometimes during our Navy career we might encounter men who we did not agree with, and we would sometimes think that we could do a better job as opposed to how they do things, but we should always remember that they are our shipmate, and our first duty as a shipmate was to be a shipmate.
He told me and my fellow mutineer leaders that instead of conspiring against the R.C.P.O and the C.C.'s we should have helped the R.C.P.O. overcome his faults, because we were all in the same boat and only together could we steer clear of future obstructions.
That was one lesson that I will never forget.
The C.C.'s had to make a decision on the day we arrived at boot camp as to who would lead our company, at the time they did not know any of us like they would learn in the eight weeks to follow, but they had to put one of us in charge so who better than someone with prior military experience. I was appointed to a leadership position a couple of days later due to my bed making abilities (taught to me by my former Army father) but they did not know that on the first day. They made their leadership decision based upon what was on our enlistment papers. They could not have known that the guy they picked could not call cadence, or fumble with marching orders under pressure, they just saw that he had served in the Army and assumed that he could lead the recruits better than some kid from Connecticut or anywhere else, because he knew what it was to serve our country because he already had.
Sometimes when you are put in a pressurized environment you forget that other people are in the same environment with you. Add in some competition and recognition and you can forget that the dumb army guy next to you still swore the same oath and signed the same enlistment papers you did and was in the same boat as you. He was not my enemy, as I thought when he called a right flank march as opposed to the left flank that he was supposed to call for the inspection, he was a confused kid in boot camp far away from his home just like me, and most of all he was my shipmate!
When I read what is happening in Ohio, and some other parts of the country in our fraternity, my first inclination is to join the revolution because those old bastards (my words) don't know what it is they are doing wrong and only by rebelling can we teach them. Then I remember my Chief from boot camp.
Those old bastards are my brothers. Those brothers who forgot what it is to be a true Freemason, are the same brothers who sat and re-sat in officers chairs to keep what their idea of Freemasonry was alive for young upstarts like me to experience.
Yes, we are at a turning point in American Freemason history.
I firmly believe that the ideas presented in papers like "Reform Freemasonry!" are like lighthouses to the ship of Freemasonry. They are shining beacons of light to guide us through troubled waters. Most of the ideas presented are exquisite gems of thought that I will use for the rest of my Masonic career, but my life experience has taught me to be a little more understanding when it comes to men in a position of leadership.
Even when my brothers disappoint me, I have to remember they are my brothers and it is my responsibility as a brother to bring them up to the level that we all aspire to attain.
Just like with my shipmate in bootcamp, who after the failed mutiny was helped by his shipmates to call better cadence and marching orders and we all went on to high honors, we must help our brothers become better Freemasons.
We are all in the same boat.