Vol. LXXVI No. 10 — October 1998
David C. Goodnow
One very simple truth is this: none of us whether DeMolays or not... have any idea how or to what extent our lives have impacted upon others, others we don't even know. We never know all of it in this life. Someday we will, but not now. Young man, if you think who you are and how you conduct yourself aren't being observed closely by others. think again. Give yourself some credit. You might be more of a trendsetter than you know. Some people may hold you in high esteem and you not even know it. They may seek to imitate you in their lives. You may unconsciously be giving them cues from your actions. Impressionable young people may seek to emulate you.
It's like the pebble tossed in the pond. The waves it makes may be small hut they spread out to affect many parts of that pond ... possibly some distance away. From where we stand on the shore we may not see all the effects of the waves. But the effects are there. What if you know someone you meet on a certain day would be strongly influenced by you? How would your day be changed? Would you have to be "on your guard" to make a difference in that other life?
Young DeMolay, what if you could rewind any day in your life when you were not on your guard? You could evaluate what you said and did. Now, what if part of that replay included those who observed you? This was something you didn't know at the time but now you could see bow they were affected by what they saw you say and do. It's too bad we don't have that kind of imaginary replay machine. It would be our personal monitor to show us when we drop the ball.
It is possible, in this day and age, to live an honorable life that spells achievement of your goals while also paving the way for someone else who may not have the tools to put it all together. You can do both. You don't have to choose one or the other. You can help that some one along the way by leadership and example.
When we became DeMolays we learned about certain rules that we're supposed to observe to govern our lives. We learned about the paramount nature of reverence, patriotism, love, courtesy, comradeship, faithfulness and cleanness. If we really learn to live by these rules we will have made the giant step that ultimately means achievement.
We DeMolays are not actors who can "put on a face" to set a good example and then take it off like a mask to relax and put our mental feet up somewhere. If we operate that way, we will undoubtedly fail someone when they arrive at a critical point in their life. They may have somehow dropped the ball. They may desperately need the leadership you can provide at that very moment. You can't say "I'll get hack to you later." No. Your leadership and example is needed right then, young man.
Each life has its own certain number of days to be spent. Of course we don't know how many of these days we have. To waste them is to waste a gift. We DeMolays could be doing so much to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Not every day will bring you great success, or even a small victory. Don't you just love it when some days come along and everything seems to go wrong "Yes," you say, "It must be true what some people think. Bad things come In threes ... or maybe fours or even fives." Those are the days when we want someone to come along and help us. Do you realize everyone has been helped by a kind person in some way? It may have been a teacher who went the extra mile to help you days, weeks or even years ago. It may have been someone who helped you get a job or was there to help you in your new job when you asked for guidance. Do you have any obligation to repay the kindness that has happened to you'? If so, what do you think that obligation is? I suggest two things: first, we all have been helped in some way; and second, we should PASS IT ON! When you have a chance to help, don't pass it up, PASS IT ON! You undoubtedly thanked the one who helped you when you asked, but it didn't end there. There is an obligation. You can carry on with that kindness and it may not even take much time. Passing it on may become a very agreeable habit. Young DeMolay, the job of living means many things. One is that we leave footprints. Our words have meaning . . at school, at home, at work. So has all that we have been, are now and will be as people. The lives of those who are interested in helping others are part of a great mosaic. It builds through the generations. We may work at living decent. helpful and productive lives but we don't live forever. When we pass from this life to the next, others come along who will take up the baton and run the relay, doing their pan, leaving their footprints. Each of us is a pan of that greater picture. That is why the study of history is so important. It is the record of human failing and achievement. It is there for all to see and know about. It shows what does and doesn't work in human relationships. It's not rocket science. It's all right there for us to see and learn from if we want to. You might also find it interesting to study those footprints.
How would history have been changed if special kindness had been extended by certain people at certain times? If you do your reading on the subject, you know there have been many instances where lives could have been changed for the better by the positive actions of a person or even a group of people.
Let's speculate for a moment on how the lives of some of history's most awful dictators might have been changed when they were children. Was there an event or series of things that happened to warp the child that might have been overcome by the positive actions of another'? Could that positive action have been simply the upstanding, honest character of another person? How might this have affected a young Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot or Saddam Hussein? Millions of lives would have been saved if the massacres they caused had not happened. Take a moment and ponder how things might have been changed years ago by the actions and upstand ing character of a person who could influence a young mind in a positive way. Is there a young person out there right now who might become one of the world's next dictators unless some one steps in to lead by example?
DeMolays can be a force for good in their homes, schools, jobs, communities and lives. The precepts are not complicated. The rules are simple. Why'? So all can see, understand and apply them. It doesn't take a PhD to know how to make your life an example for good. You are already out in front in many ways by your decision to become a member of the Order of DeMolay.
There are those who don't know what DeMolay stands for. The only thing they may ever know about DeMolay, and you, is what they see you doing and saying in your life. Telling people how to live is one thing. Demonstrating it by your actions is another thing altogether. It is lead ing by unintended example.
What is DeMolay? DeMolay is for young men between the ages of thirteen and twenty one. Founded eighty year's ago in Kansas City, Missouri, DeMolay has spread to every state in the Union, and several countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, Panama and the Philippines. Today there are over 700 active chapters in the United States, with over one million alumni. DeMolay International is one of the oldest and largest youth organizations of young men in the country.
What does DeMolay do? DeMolay teaches young men to be better persons. Providing a fraternal environment, the young men of DeMolay govern and direct their own activities, under the "advisorship" of adults. Leadership skills, civic awareness, responsibility, and character development are learned through a variety of "real world" applications and activities. Simply put, DeMolay builds confidence, teaches responsibility, cooperation, community service, and fosters trust, respect, fellowship, patriotism, reverence, and sharing.
Some activities DeMolay is involved in are, softball, basketball, swimming parties, dances, ski trips, camping and hiking. Other activities may include helping clean city parks, collecting food for the needy, raising money for seriously and/or chronically ill children, helping senior citizens, helping local charity groups, and a host of other worthwhile projects. Through these activities, and others too numerous to mention, the young men of DeMolay develop reverence for one's own beliefs and respect for the beliefs of others, to love their parents, to be courteous, faithful, and patriotic; all of which prepare the young men of DeMolay for the future.
DeMolay sponsorship is an opportunity to make a difference. Each DeMolay Chapter must be sponsored by a recognized group of Freemasons. The group may be a Blue Lodge, a Scottish Rite or York Rite Body, a Shrine Temple or Club, or some other group of Masons. Masonic sponsorship enables DeMolay Chapters to have dependable, dedicated adult volunteer "advisors." The im mediate supervision of every chapter lies in the hands of an Advisory Council, which acts as an adult leadership team witch is com posed of qualified, caring adults interested in the wellbeing of young people. One member of the Advisory Council is designated "Chapter Advisor" and is the main advisor to the chapter and its members. The Chapter Advisor instructs and guides the chapter in the development of leadership skills and serves as a liaison between the adult leadership team and the Chapter.
As a Mason, you can help in many ways. Offer your time and talents as a DeMolay Advisor or adult volunteer. Urge your son, nephew, grandson, or other young man in your neighborhood or from among the families of your friends toward possible member ship in DeMolay. You can boost and help DeMolay at every opportunity that presents itself or sponsor a new member into DeMolay. As a Freemason, you can be invaluable to DeMolay in many ways. See if a Masonic organization you are a member of wants to sponsor a DeMolay Chapter, or provide financial support to DeMolay, or the DeMolay Foundation. Both are tax deductible. If you would like more information or would like to help DeMolay in any way, please contact DeMolay International, 10200 N. Executive Hills Blvd, Kansas City, Missouri 64153 (816) 8918333.
Information provided by DeMolay International