Do you want it to be good? Or do you want it to be yours?
I never thought I’d find masonic writing inspiration in an episode of House of Cards, but, nonetheless, here we are.
In an episode of Season 4, Tom Yates is working on a speech during the Democratic National Convention. Tom is a descriptive and illustrative writer with passion for telling stories, his presidential-staff-speech-writing colleagues tend to take a drier, more factual tone. When debating with the staff speech writers on the path chosen for this particular speech, a pivotal moment in the plot line, Tom asks, “do you want it to be good, or do you want it to be yours?”
These two ideas, “good” and “yours”, need not be mutually exclusive, and there is no shame in believing your idea is the best and taking pride in it. What good is your own idea if you do not whole heartedly believe in it? There is a time to stand behind your idea in the face of adversity, as long as that stand is in the name of the common good and not your own pride. There is never a time, though, to shut out foreign ideas and hide behind pride or ignorance.
This quote, while sharp and to the point, is a reminder that we as Masons, and especially our Masonic leaders, should be open to ideas that are not our own. Whether the ideas are a differing philosophy or tactical approach to solving a particular problem, the key is to recognize greatness, whatever the source, and to not let our own emotional attachment to our creations cloud our better judgement. There is much merit, and I believe necessity, to placing your idea in amongst the group and objectively analyzing it. If each member of the debating group takes this mindset, you form a team of empirical thinkers and ponderers rather than a fervent mob, each excitably attached to their own propped up stronghold of thought.
Our Craft was delightfully founded with this manner of critical thinking, open communication and analytical problem solving in mind. The combination of Brotherly Love and Justice has served us well, and can continue to serve us if we are willing to state our thoughts in a public forum, openly consider others, and, as a Brotherhood, conclude if we want what is great or what is ours.
Bro. R. J. Hughes is the Worshipful Master of Armstrong Lodge #239 in Freeport, PA. He is King of Orient Holy Royal Arch Chapter #247, Principle Conductor of Work of Kittanning Council #52 and a member of Holyrood Commandery #100, all in Kittanning, PA. He is also a member of the Pennsylvania Lodge of Research and the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania’s Academy of Masonic Knowledge where he is a Level 1 Master Masonic Scholar. Bro. R. J. can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org