It gave me such delight to see so many of you last month; your enjoyment of our meal, our focused attention for Brother Roy Ball’s lecture, and the conversation and fellowship after the close of our meeting all sparked such a bright light for me – as I hope it did for you.
Indeed I have seen in practice that work, dining, and refreshment are the key venues for collaboration and open exchange. So it is that this February, I am happy to have organized a variety of Italian dishes for our dinner and dessert; provided by one of Portland’s more popular restaurants. Furthermore, a selection from the lectures of Dr. Kenneth G. Brown on the mastery of influence has been chosen to further our education in being a Modern Gentleman.
Whilst reviewing Dr. Brown’s work, I came to notice the prominence of fortitude in his practice. Today we take this word to mean a mental strength, and the moral courage to confront danger or pain. This merging of the mental and physical is fascinating to me. A grand compromise of Plato and Cicero, whose definitions combined, cover both territories – though separated by some 300 years. For Plato saw fortitude as the chief virtue of a protector – a sentry poised to protect the public good through their bodily might. Whist the Romans came to see fortitude as being much more akin to our modern notion of temperance – living life according to reason, not giving in to base desires.
Some many more years removed from both these gentlemen, we still live in a world with threats. We still see challenges to overcome. And men may still wish to give into the base desire to avoid both for the sake of physical or emotional comfort. But it is the virtuous man who is reasonable, brave and temperate: he does not rage at the world nor abstain from disputes in favor of mere comfort. I for one am delighted by the opportunities our gentle craft offers to practice fortitude – to meet my brothers on the level and lovingly exchange our ideas so that we can build friendships whereas otherwise we (and indeed our thoughts) might remain at a perpetual distance.
Be well, Brethren, and be bright. I look forward to seeing you again in February.
Walter Lee, Junior Warden