Voting on Petitions – the Gentleman’s Way

By April 28, 2016From the East

Certainly it is hoped, that petitions for membership to our lodge will be approved. And voting favorably tends to be a straight-forward matter.

But what about voting to reject? That can be delicate. The most courteous approach might be to prevent the matter from being brought to a final vote.

Here’s how it might work. The process could begin, with a worshipful master looking for signs of impending black cubes. Such indications might appear at any time, between when a petition is first presented, and when the lodge has a final vote. Throughout this period, the master should encourage lodge members to search their own consciences, and to quietly share any concerns they might have with the master.

In privacy and confidentiality, all concerns can be expressed. The master might respond in a variety of ways. He might attempt to facilitate a reconciliation, between the petitioner and the member expressing reservations. Or, if differences appear irreconcilable, the master might choose not to bring the matter to a vote, and inform the petitioner in a humane, one-on- one communication. Greater kindness is shown, if the petitioner is spared the trauma of a negative vote. Moreover, that might allow him to petition another lodge, that might feel differently and welcome him as a new member.

Standard practice, unfortunately, can be harsh. Black cubes might appear unexpectedly, with no warning signs, at the time a final vote is called. If that happens, the worshipful master will be startled. Worse, the person who is rejected will be humiliated. Finally, there might be recriminations within the lodge.

A better way is available. A lodge member opposing a petition can quietly go to the worshipful master at some point before the final vote is cast, to communicate reservations. Nothing in our rules forbids such an approach. This would be an act of discretion, that spoke well of the lodge member.

The path of the gentleman sometimes involves doing more than simply following rules. It also involves imagination, foresight, and discretion. Why cause needless harm to someone who sought our fellowship?

WB Bob Casey, Worshipful Master 2016

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