Thursday, September 3, 2015

‘The tools of civility’

You have heard of The Rules of Civility, now the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York connects its fraternal members to the tools of civility.

Magpie file photo
“There is a growing attention across our grand jurisdictions to civility projects, and bringing attention to the way we deal with each other,” said Grand Master William J. Thomas in his St. John’s Weekend address at Utica in June. “In its broadest sense, civility is just good manners.”

“Our Grand Lodge is taking a leadership posture,” he added. “We have established a working relationship with the Civility Task Force of the North American Conference of Grand Masters, and appointed a Special Committee on Civility. I ask that you encourage your Lodges and Districts to give attention to this project, with an objective of leading by example. If we act courteously and civility among ourselves and in our profane lives, perhaps it will influence others to behave likewise.”

The tools of civility include:

  • Pay Attention and Listen. Listen intently when others are speaking. Inhibit the “inner voice” from interrupting with comments such as “The problem is…” or “We’ve always done it this way.”
  • Be Inclusive. Civility knows no ethnicity, no level of leadership, no forum, no religion, no generation, and no bounds. Being inclusive includes everyone. It is about leading and serving for the betterment of mankind.
  • No Gossiping. Gossiping is one of the most hurtful behaviors and accomplishes nothing.
  • Be Respectful. Respect has nothing to do with liking or disliking someone. Respect means you can disagree without being disagreeable. Civility is respectful behavior. Respect is honorable behavior.
  • Build Relationships. Leadership is about building relationships. Therefore, being civil is especially helpful in this process.
  • Use Constructive Language. Be mindful of the words you use, when you use them, and also of the words you speak through your non-verbal communications.
  • Take Responsibility. Don’t shift responsibility or place blame on other people. Hold yourself accountable, accept your own faults, speak positively, and respect everyone.
  • You be the example. Be the example, so that others will say, “I want to be like him.”

If you haven’t seen “What Would George Washington Do?,” the June 2015 Short Talk Bulletin penned by Grand Master Thomas, click here. In it, Thomas cites the seventeenth century moral text that Washington as a youth made his own, transcribing its teachings into a personal journal for his own right thinking and right acting that is in print and available to this day. In fact, a free copy can be had, courtesy of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, by clicking here.

Other tools being harnessed by the Grand Lodge of New York are:

The Civility Center

Civility in the Craft: Points for Discussion

April 2014 Short Talk Bulletin titled “Civility” by then Deputy Grand Master of California Russ Charvonia.

Seven Stages of Civility

Civility and Respect: A Behavioral Spectrum

“Freemasonry is a progressive science,” as we say in our Craft ritual. I think part of what that means is the tenets of the fraternity do not deal in corrective measures—there isn’t talk of sin and redemption—because it is entirely a proactive teaching. Live your Masonry, and you’ll never err. I have been blessed to be among Freemasons who exude civility; I have been with those who could profit from these lessons; and I think myself and most of us land somewhere in the vast middle. Civility is present throughout Masonic imagination. Those who have ears will hear. A ritual part of the lodge closing that had been absent from our New York work for too long, but restored just a few months ago, leaves us with these words: “Every human being has a claim upon your kind offices. Do good unto all.”


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