RICHARD E. JOHNSON
Deputy Grand Master, 1990
From TROWEL, Spring 1990, Page 3:
Richard Earl Johnson of Northboro was installed Deputy Grand Master and in his talk he emphasized ". . . the need for genuine sense of purpose, and for the Craft to be more pare of our community needs among the aged and misguided youth. It is our duty as Masons to provide the moral fiber of life to others and to understand that our personal efforts are as important to society as giving money. The need to stretch forth our hands to save others, not just our fallen Brothers. Let us unite to expose to society the lodges we take inside our temples."
From TROWEL, Summer 1990, Page 11:
Deputy Grand Master Credits the Army for His Present Posture
For many years prior to the outbreak of World War II, the U.S. Navy had a billboard slogan, "Join the Navy and See the World." Uncle Sam, attired in his proper red, white and blue uniform and top hat was pointing to every young man to the effect that, "I need you!" Our new Deputy Grand Master is a well travelled man; has been to most of the 50 states of the union and ten foreign nations. But his forte was the Navy's counterpart of service, the Army, where he found a 13-year haven only three days after his high school graduation. "I was a rebel and the Army straightened me out. I was reading through an Army school catalog and spotted a course on Signal Analyst. When I asked the recruiter what it meant he said was classified. So, that was for me and the Army lity Agency educated me." His travels took him as as Taiwan, The Philippines, Japan, Midway Island, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, Europe, Canada and into many of the military forts in the United States.
Richard Earl Johnson is a native of Omaha where he graduated in 1961 from South High School. In one of his three tours of duty that brought him to Ft. Devens he met his wife, Joan C. Ellison of Belmont. "I had dated her lest friend and my Army pal was dating Joan. Fortunately for me. we later exchanged dates. We were married in 1969 and we are the parents of Richard A., 17, and Cheryl A., 15." Their son is a member of Marlboro Chapter. Order of DeMolay, and Cheryl is a member of Marlboro Assembly No. 35, International Order of Rainbow for Girls. Joan is a Past Worthy Advisor of Belmont Assembly No. 31 and a member of Belmont Chapter No. 108. Order of the Eastern Star.
Raised in United Brethren Lodge of Marlboro in 1975, he was Master 1983-84 and District Deputy Grand Master of the Marlboro 24th in 1986 and 1987. He was the Grand Pursuivant to R. W. Al Rose, who was Junior Grand Warden in 1988. Bro. Johnson's Pursuivant this year is Wor. Walter A. Vickers, Past Master of United Brethren Lodge. Both are residents of Northboro. Dick is affiliated with Columbian Lodge of Boston, member of the Valley of Boston, Scottish Rite, and has been active with the Education Dept. of Grand Lodge as a Presenter and Forum Leader. He serves on the Advisory Boards of DeMolay and Rainbow in Marlboro. His hobby is collecting antique pocket watches and motor home touring. The least of his worries are tires for the motor home. He is president of four tire agencies.
Dick Johnson is a prime example of what M. W. Edgar W. Darling means when he says, "They're out there, Brethren!" He has no family ties to the Craft, but his wife Joan's grandfather and two uncles are Past Masters of Pequossette Lodge of Watertown. Her father is a member of Belmont-Beaver Lodge and Mrs. Ellison is a Past Grand Conductress of the Eastern Star.
"My primary interest in Masonry is strengthening our Blue Lodges. That's where it's at and that's where we are weakening in the Fraternity. Strong Blue Lodges mean a strong Craft and the Collateral bodies will then prosper and proliferate. It's time to go back to the basics." His task is to prepare a curriculum for next fall when the Grand Master will conduct educational meetings for the present and future District Deputy Grand Masters. Credit the U.S. Army for taking a young man who considered high school as boring and developing him into an educator. But also credit Freemasonry for giving our Deputy Grand Master a new opportunity to serve.
AT FEAST OF ST. JOHN, DECEMBER 1989
From Proceedings, Page 1989-221:
Most Worshipful Grand Master, Most Worshipful Past Grand Masters. Distinguished Guests, and my Brethren all:
It is indeed a pleasure and a most distinguished honor to have been selected to serve as your Deputy Grand Master for the ensuing year from the many qualified Brethren within the Ranks of our fraternity. I only pray that I may live up to everyone's expectations.
When the Grand Master informed me that I would do the opening speech tonight, I asked him, "Well, what do you want me to speak on?" He said, "It's your show." So I put some thoughts together about what really is the crux of the problems we face today.
Inasmuch as we are all concerned about the decline in lodge attendance and initiations, we see history has shown us that Masonry over the years has survived with pluses and minuses. When a man reaches advanced age and maturity, he does not in the normal course of events have the drive, the energy, the enthusiasm to attend his lodge on a regular basis.
Now what can we do to get these men back? All of our entertaining programs, our social events and free meals are not really the answer. I believe the answer is to instill in each man a genuine sense of purpose, a useful need, a motivation. We need the quality of programs maintained for the Brothers who respond on a regular basis.
It has often been asked, "What is wrong with Masonry?" The answer is nothing.
We only need to keep pace with time. If we don't keep pace with time, when we stop, it passes us by. Masonry will survive because it is fundamentally sound and good, but it needs our backbones to remain erect and in the forefront of life.
Tonight we have enjoyed an outstanding meal and genuine brotherhood and fellowship. For this we are thankful. But what about tomorrow and the days to follow? Will we be as inspired in those days as we are today? I think not. It is normal in the course of our lives to be caught up with our own importance and our own frantic timetables. In order that we be better Masons, we should all consciously make the effort to be more aware of the needs of those who are in need. You might say in these financially troubling times I can't spare any monies beyond my normal contributions to charity. Let us not give from ourselves, but let us give of ourselves. There is someone in every community who needs us as friends. These people could be residents of a nursing home, an acquaintance who has suffered a terrible tragedy, an elderly person who needs someone to listen or a misguided youth crying out for direction. At this stage of our lives you and I don't need the shoulder to cry on or someone to tell our troubles. We should be the ones to provide the strength these people don't have. Let them take some strength from us. We have plenty to spare. It is our duty to provide moral fiber and inner strength. To ignore the plight of those who are less fortunate than us is a terrible tragedy.
Masonic teachings continually profess charity. We must never limit the bounds of charity to strictly money. Many people are insulted by the offer of money which is the easiest form of charity to give. The stalwart benefactors are those who have the courage and conviction to give of themselves. At this moment I would ask each of you to search back in your vast storehouse of memories and recall how on one or more occasions you were forgotten by someone. One of the strongest pains in life is to be forgotten.
Do you remember the phrase "Apart from the service of God and a distressed worthy brother, the brotherhood of man knows no boundaries'"? "A worthy brother" is a phrase that encompasses all. If this is so, why then is there a need for Masonry? I'll tell you why. The allegory and symbolism, ritual and teachings, principles and tenets are but a few of the covenants that point out the whole duty of man. As Masons, we are banded together so that we may all recognize each other and realize each of us is not alone in the quest of our common denominators: faith, hope and charity.
With today's activities and the celebration of the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist, we begin to write a new chapter in the history of Freemasonry. This is the dawn of a new decade. We all recognize that some beneficial changes are necessary in order that we may proliferate and progress in our ranks and task. It is human nature to resist change due to our acclamation of repetitive comfort levels. The first statement to surface when change is discussed is, "But it's always been that way. It is our tradition." Look at the Masonic contributions to history that have changed courses which ultimately have affected the whole world. Change is good. I submit to you, my Brothers, it is our tradition to change.
Most Worshipful Grand Master, again I would like to thank you for this prestigious honor to serve you and our brethren. On behalf of your first year cadre of officers, both elected and appointed, we pledge to you our loyalty and support.
And to my Brethren, may you have a most joyous holiday season and may 1990 be the first of the best years of your lives. God bless all.
AT FEAST OF ST. JOHN, DECEMBER 1999
From Proceedings, Page 1999-227:
Most Worshipful Grand Master, Distinguished Guests, and my Brethren all.
The opinions expressed herein tonight do not necessarily reflect those of the Management. (Did I get that right?)'
On December27,1989, I stood at this podium and addressed this august assembly as a brand new Deputy Grand Master. Our Most Worshipful Grand Master Fred Kirby Bauer followed me with an address in which the theme was "It's OK To Be Green."
I re-read the Proceedings of 1989 and realized that address will always be timeless. We were encouraged to be ourselves, understand we each have shortcomings and differences. Furthermore, we cant change who we are, but we can change our attitudes toward each other and our fellow man. He further pointed out that we can accept and deal with each others differences. Rather than criticize shortcomings, is it not prudent to extol each others good points?
In just 101 hours, the last decade of the 1900s will fade to a close. It will probably go away quietly, with some anticipation, some tears, some joy. Will Masonry follow? I sincerely hope not! Remember that word, HOPE!
In 101 hours, a new decade beginning with the year 2000 will burst upon us with fanfare and great expectations of a new beginning. Could we do the same for Masonry? Of course!
However, the year change occurs with no control. We as members of this Fraternity, must control the change in our Fraternity. Change is not easy. How many times have you heard We never did it that way before! That phrase needs to be retired! Under the direction of our Grand Master and the help of a new slate of Grand Lodge Officers, we need to embrace change.
Change just for the sake of change is not good. Change must be well thought out and structured for the benefit of all. Well-structured change should be embraced by all of us. Give change a chance.
The naysayers and prophets of doom will always be there. To go nose to nose with these detractors will not help our efforts. We need to listen to these types and quietly prove them wrong. Our best offense should be a smile. Not a smirk, a smile. Remember that piece of ritual that says, Sincerity and plain dealing distinguish us, and the heart and tongue join in promoting each others welfare and rejoicing in each others prosperity? Think about the very direct meaning of that passage and correlate it to our efforts.
In 101 hours, a new beginning, a new promise, a new hope. All lost expectations, failures, and sins, are now history. The birth of a new decade means new life, new hopes, new goals, and a reaffirmation of our ideals and desires.
Tonight, we have here assembled, close to 900 of the most dedicated Masons of Massachusetts. The questions is, where are the other 51,000? (not that we have room for them). What is it that we are not doing to inspire those that are not here? Somehow, we are not transcending the threshold of long-term self-motivation.
Todays society embraces Do it now! for instant gratification. No longer do we wait for the tree to mature and provide shade. Now, it's "How soon can you transplant a tree so I can have shade tomorrow?" After the transplant, society says, "Don't bother me, I've got mine!" We have become a disposable society. How are we going to adapt to this dilemma that faces us? Quality!
Quality is always better than quantity. Masonry is not a fun organization. It was never meant to be fun. But, one thing is very evident, Masons were once respected as pillars of the community. If a man were a Mason, he was looked up to by non-Masons. Those Masons never espoused any fun in the organization; they did relate how much self-satisfaction the organization provided and the enjoyment they experienced by being a member.
We should never say to the uninitiated how much fun we are having. We should be telling them that we enjoy the benefits of our fraternity by evidence of our participation and continual membership. Look what Tom Sawyer did with his infamous fence. If we can cause Masonry to prosper through controlled growth, we will enjoy the fruits to the fullest degree of satisfaction. If!
If every Mason in Massachusetts were to make a personal goal to sponsor one applicant in the year 2000, our lodges could not handle the load. Just think! One Mason, one candidate. 102,000 Masons. I'll bet our Grand Master would love to address the logistical challenge of 51,000 applicants.
Borrowing a theme from the Ford Motor Company, Quality is Job #1, and, borrowing a theme from Most Worshipful David W. Lovering, Membership is Job #1. Put the two together: Quality Membership is Job #1.
How do we attain quality in a member? It's really quite simple, a quality person is one who is educated, motivated, sincere, and possesses hope. We are attempting to get our Lodges back to basics with them teaching the symbolism of our degrees. During the 1920s, Masonry was at its zenith! In our jurisdiction, it was decided that the Lodges were doing such a poor job of instructing candidates, the Lodges of Instruction were formulated. Membership in Massachusetts has steadily eroded since then by approximately 100,000 members. Is reinstituting symbolic instruction in the Lodges the answer? History will tell us.
But, we cannot stand still and wait for the answer. Sincerity is a trait that is there or it is not. Motivation, Hope! These two go hand-in-hand. Hope is defined as a desire, accompanied by expectation or belief in fulfillment. Motivation is defined as a force that causes someone to act. Hope is the foundation of motivation.
Motivation is a part of each of us that needs to be stimulated. Long-lasting motivation is that which is generated by hope. If you have hope, you are self-motivated. Our minds control the ability to be self-motivated. The human mind is the strongest control center in the world. The mind can make us wage war, or smile. It can stimulate each of us to be self-motivated if we believe that hope ends in fruition. Individually, if we practice self-motivation, we can, through a positive mindset, accomplish anything we set out to do. External motivation is generally short-lived. We have to motivate ourselves to acquire new candidates to provide lineage in our Fraternity. External motivation is akin to being a successful teacher. How do teachers succeed in motivating their students? Its really very simple, present the concept again, reinforce the theory again. Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce.
External motivation can be presented by any one of us. But, because Masonry is a tertiary aspect of our lives, we lose the opportunity to reinforce. We don't have enough hours in the day to handle the demands of family, vocation, Masonry, and reinforcement. Self-motivation is the answer.
Self-motivation is one of the most powerful stimuli known to man. Once you have committed yourself by self-motivation, you will succeed! Nothing can sway you from success! The mindset required to self-motivate is stronger than any known force that can be generated by man. Let me tell you a story about a young man who was entirely self-motivated.
He came from a town in the mid west, and had a lofty ambition to attend college to become a commercial artist. His family by all standards was extremely poor as well as dysfunctional. The home he came from, for years had dirt floors, no hot water, nor indoor plumbing. The winter heat was provided by a pot-bellied coal stove. Many snowy, winter nights were spent sitting on a coal sack, watching the stove turn cherry-red and dreaming of better living conditions.
The young boy discovered he could escape his environment through books. He became a voracious reader of any book available. Strangely enough, his favorite author was Horatio Alger. He always pictured himself as the object of Alger's writings. His parents told him time and time again, that he would never attend college due to a lack of money. His father was cold and abusive. There was no conversation between them other than the father ordering household chores to be accomplished. There was no encouragement for the young man to excel in any aspect. Instead, he was overtly criticized and demeaned.
The young man could not understand the abusive attitude of his father. He sensed a different attitude when the father spoke to the young man's siblings. There was definitely a softer side that was not present when the father dealt with the young man. At the age of 12, he learned the reason why there was a difference.
The young boy applied for an after school job, but needed a Social Security Card. In order to get a Social Security Card, you need a birth certificate. While searching for that certificate, he found a court decree granting the adoption process and changing his birth name, thereby amending the birth certificate to reflect that the adoptive father be identified as his birth father.
The young man was devastated beyond all comprehension. All the years of wonder and anguish became clear. He was not the man's son.
The physical punishment for minor behavioral infractions along with the total lack of communication took its toll. This was testimony of the father's apparent rejection of the young man as a son. It caused the young man to release a torrent of pent-up emotion. Years of doubts came crashing down.
The young man cried himself to sleep night after night. He could not bear to face his mother with the discovery that he was possibly illegitimate and had no father figure to bond with. Knowing that he could not face either parent with his discovery, the boy rebelled by getting into minor scrapes with the law and converting his once straight A school record into dismal Cs and Ds. He associated with the wrong element in school and became alienated from authority figures. Throughout his high school years, the young man dreamed of becoming free of the now dreaded and feared stepfather figure. At the age of 17, he graduated from high school on a Saturday and, by the following Wednesday, was enlisted in the military service and on his way to Basic Training. He had escaped the dreaded environment.
Alas, an attitude had developed against any form of authority which could not be set aside. The young man suffered many setbacks time and time again in the three years he spent in the service. Upon returning home at the age of 20, he was devastated to learn that the stepfather's rejection was stronger than ever. Within three months, he was ordered to leave the home he had returned to. Eleven jobs in twelve months meant that a level of immaturity was still apparent in the young man. Brokenhearted, unemployed, penniless, and sleeping in an old car with all his worldly possessions in the trunk, the young man reentered the military and never looked back. It took a few years for this man to correct his attitude and reach deep inside himself to find the switch called self-motivation. The young man found a mentor in the military who saw something in him no one else did. The mentor was considerably older than the young man. The young man had found a father figure. He began a long, slow transformation towards accepting authority and caring about his role in society. He found it was okay to question authority, but there was a time and place for all things.
With a strong determination to achieve and succeed, the young man left the military after thirteen years to start his own business. He found Masonry through his need to be accepted and developed a burning desire to excel in a fraternity that accepted him on equal terms, with no conditions attached. He married, raised a family, succeeded in business and prospered in Masonry. He became a good Master of his Lodge, was a successful Mason, and, ultimately, accepted a very prestigious position in our Grand Lodge.
This young man fought adversity and overcame tremendous odds. He overcame every obstacle through self-motivation. He accepted nothing at face value during those formative years and experienced failure time and time again. He learned every lesson the hard way. All of his positive aspects and results came to him through sheer determination and hard work. His deep-seated self-motivation would not allow him to give up. A self-starter, he learned that success only came through mental determination, self-motivation and a positive mind-set.
We all possess this ability because we are able to reason and determine right from wrong. Through this mans experiences and end results, we know full well that self- motivation is one of the strongest traits we possess. This trait is controlled completely within our inner emotional make-up. It is that little switch called self-motivation.
Hope begins as a desire. The desire turns to expectation. Expectation begets anticipation. Anticipation becomes hope. Hope is a circle that can only be broken by someone who cannot self-motivate. Hope is the beginning, the end, and all things in between. What separates us from the animal world is the ability to reason and improve our lot in life.
Each of you should be challenged by the foregoing example of self-motivation. Your only reward for being a motivated, successful Mason will be a sense of self- satisfaction. To associate your life with unquestionable success only comes with self-motivation. Motivation is the driving power within each of us that causes us to excel in every aspect of our being. As there are no implied or designated rewards, the sense of a job well done is our only gratification. When we embrace the euphoric phenomenon of self-motivation, self-satisfaction becomes evident and unforgettable.
We can all bask in the glory of a job well done, or drown in the misery of wondering why we didnt do better. Each of us here today has accepted jobs that have been offered by our Fraternity. These we have accepted freely and graciously. Our motivation should always be, to live respected and die regretted.
The young man in our story? From the depths of despair and rejection, I stand here today as living testimony. Self-motivation is a driving force we all possess.