Monday, April 26, 2010

Misplaced Flower Space

Some of you may be wondering why the Executive Officer's article in the latest Keystone Crusader was called "Dad" Labagh's Article Space. This happens to be a little inside joke. You see, each month the amount of room given to "Dad" Labagh in the Key Cru has gotten smaller and smaller. His space has been shrinking. In response, "Dad" Labagh had me create this blog, in essence, to give him more article space! "Dad" Labagh started an article in this month's Key Cru, and it is now finished here on the blog, where "Dad" Labagh can have all the space he needs! Keep checking back often to see what's on his on mind!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Now, on to the article...


May is the month for Mother’s Day, and I hope that you will find an appropriate way to observe this day as an individual, and as a Chapter. Most Chapters will have a Parents Day obligatory observance on or near Mother’s Day, and many of them will have a member present the Flower Talk as a suitable tribute for the day. Recently I was asked, “Why don’t we do the Flower Talk at statewide classes any more?” First, let me say, I love the Flower Talk—I’ve presented it many, many times and I believe I could still deliver it if called upon at a moment’s notice. A Flower Talk used to be given on the night a young man received his DeMolay Degree, as if it was a “3rd Degree” for DeMolay.


But ever since Norman Bates uttered the line, “Well, a – a boy’s best friend is his mother” in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1960 movie, “Psycho,” it has been harder for our society to blindly idealize motherhood in prose or in verse. Sarcastically said by this creepy character, it underlines a sad truth about the world—that not every parent loves and cares for his or her children.
Thankfully, many more do, than don’t, and in DeMolay we DO pay tribute to Mom with the Flower Talk and Moms and Dads within the context of our First Virtue and Parents’ Day obligatory observance. Which is a long way of dancing around the question, without giving an answer, but here’s the thought: Why make a young man stand for a Flower Talk that might be hurtful or insulting to him if he has no fond thoughts for a mother who has not been a positive part of his life?

I recall several occasions at statewide classes where the presentation of the Flower Talk was a particularly embarrassing experience for a DeMolay member who stood numbly, feeling nothing but hatred and rejection when he was forced to think about his mother. I remember a young DeMolay who was left in tears, not because he had to choose a white flower in memory of his deceased mother, but rather, because there wasn’t a black flower or a dead flower to symbolize the mother who had abandoned him at an early age because of her drug habit.

The Flower Talk is a beautiful and stylish rendering of the "ideal" relationship of a young man to his mother—- it sets up a “perfect” relationship as somehow being normal. There is nothing wrong with trying to impress upon a young man the importance of his mother, and encouraging him to improve his behavior and to express his appreciation. Even a young man who hasn't had the wonderful benefit of a caring and loving mother should know that it is a desired and important relationship, so that he makes it a priority for HIS children in future years. But we should understand that, for a young man who hasn’t shared this experience, it is a much harder concept to grasp if he has to abstractly try to imagine what love is, especially a mother’s love, instead of experiencing it.

The best thing for each Chapter Advisor to do is to get to know all new members (and their family backgrounds) well enough to know if receiving a Flower Talk is a good idea or not. If unsure, a Chapter Advisor can ask a parent or guardian, and can even talk to the DeMolay himself about how he would feel being asked to stand one more time at the altar for a presentation about the ideal of motherhood. Receiving the Flower Talk should be an option—not a requirement—for every young man who crosses the DeMolay threshold. We should sincerely encourage it, but we shouldn't force it.

"Dad" Thomas R. Labagh

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