The importance of being relevant

Helping hands

When I first agreed to start this Orator’s blog, I gave our Provincial Communications Officer a lovely shiny plan for all the topics I wanted to cover over the year. I comfortably kept to that plan for the first two posts, and then the world turned upside down.

Complete disruption in every aspect of our lives

Over the last four weeks, the Coronavirus pandemic has led to the disruption of our daily lives to an extent very few of us – and certainly not I – have ever experienced. We have been asked to do things we have never been asked to do before, in every aspect of our lives:

  • As employees and employers, we have, at best, been asked to work from home wherever possible and take pay cuts. At worst and in contrast, our health workers and carers have been asked to go to work at the front line of the war against the virus knowing that they are putting their health and very lives at risk by doing so.
  • As family members we have been asked to protect our loved ones by educating our children at home, not seeing our vulnerable relatives for many weeks, but instead looking out for our loved ones remotely, where we can, using social media and video meeting technology.
  • As members of our communities, we have been asked to do what we can to support our neighbours in need and to come together on our doorsteps to show our support for our NHS and carers in whatever small way we can.
  • As members of organised society, we have been asked to forego our holidays and hobbies, shop responsibly, keep each other entertained, focus on the important and valuable things in life, and pull together as a country and as a species.

But what about us as Freemasons?

I have been in awe of how we as a fraternity have responded to the challenge the world currently faces. We have seen Grand Rulers, Provincial Rulers, Almoners and Charity Stewards show immense leadership and step up when their brethren needed their guidance and encouragement. We have seen Lodges swing into action to support their local communities, delivering food and essentials, and donating huge sums of money to the various funds and campaigns set up to support the fight against the virus.

When, as the Provincial Grand Orator, I began to write a blog meant to be about advancing our masonic education, you might see how I couldn’t help but question how relevant my office and input is right now.

Yes, I could quote and explore other historic examples of Freemasonry in adversity. I could research and describe individual acts of heroism and benevolence from our members throughout history, but I decided not to do that.

I don’t think that would necessarily achieve anything. Why not? I believe that right now, we don’t need inspiration from our past. We are creating our own inspiration every day. Every day we are going not just the extra mile but embarking on journeys of attrition that we would have never contemplated just two short months ago.

We are finding and exemplifying our identity not in aprons, collars and perfect ritual, but in our social conscience, bottomless charity and unshakeable faith that we will get through this.

So, am I relevant?

I have always believed that society needs to focus more on the values we freemasons hold so dear. So it is as a freemason that I can say “Yes!” I am proud that, together with the hundreds of thousands of men I call my brothers, we are proving that we are more relevant right now than perhaps any time in our history.

Merrick Jones

W.Bro. Merrick Jones PAGPurs, Prov G Orator – A third-generation Freemason, Merrick was initiated into Wenallt Lodge No. 9082 in 1994, where he is currently Director of Ceremonies. He is Master of the Albert Edward Court Lodge of Research No. 9908, a member of Hendre Lodge No. 3250 and Lodge of Benevolence No. 7305 and a member of the Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle. He is Treasurer of Hiraeth Chapter No. 8834 and Director of Ceremonies of Colonnade Chapter No. 7305. In 2015 he was appointed Past Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies. In 2017 he was appointed Provincial Grand Orator and Learning & Development Officer. In that role he also chairs the Provincial Research Group. In 2018 he was appointed Assistant Grand Pursuivant in UGLE. He is also a Subject Manager for the Solomon learning system.