Monday, August 25, 2014

George Washington's Advice to Students

Today's post comes from frequent guest writer "Dad" Peter Brusoe. Enjoy!

Saturday evening, I was standing on a front porch of a country estate looking at almost 2,000 17-18 year olds from across the United States and the world.  There were conversations happening and you could hear southern drawls, the clipped northeastern style of talking, the flat “A”s of Wisconsin and Minnesota, some Long Islanders tawlking, some Spanish, some French and some Mandarin. It sounded like a waterfall with all of the noise and the air had a spark of electricity about it that was contagious.   This must be what roadies and back-up musicians feel like before the star of the show comes on.  All of a sudden a man goes to the microphone and the waterfall becomes a brook.  He introduces the next speaker, General George Washington, the first President of the United States and the owner of Mount Vernon, the estate that we were all on. The waterfall is now as silent as a desert, you could hear a pin drop.

This was the class of 2018 for the George Washington University, the premier university in Washington, D.C. This was their first night together as classmates, friends, and colleagues. I was lucky enough to be invited to join as the Masonic & Eastern Star Charities of DC and the Scottish Rite Charities were funders.  Most of these students were born in the years 1995-1997.  What could a man born in 1732 have to share with the Millennials of today? It turns out quite a lot.

George Washington was not a historically verbose speaker.  His second inaugural address was 135 words, in contrast President Obama’s second inaugural was 2,137 George Bush’s second inaugural was 2,062 words. The reenactor was extremely good.  Even in talking about Masonry it took a couple of tries to get out that his membership was in  Concordia Lodge No. 67 in PA and not Alexandria No. 22 or Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4. Similar in manner and style, he kept his talk brief.

He spoke about the need of integrity, the importance of tolerance for others as a good basis upon which to build one’s life.  He then talked about something that Dr. Benjamin Franklin said “Well done is better than well said.”  He cleared his throat and said “or simply put, deeds not words.”  

For us as DeMolays and DeMolay advisors this is good advice we too should follow.  How often do we talk about doing things for DeMolay, or talk about what the chapter will do or talk about the importance of sharing DeMolay, but sometimes we fail to do it.   We should strive to live up to the standards and values of President Washington in our daily lives.

He closed by recommending to the students his rules of civility, or more formally “110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation” especially the last one “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

As DeMolays we are helped along with this process by having our obligations to check and help guide our conscience. But we need to always be mindful to ensure that the spark stays alive in our daily actions.  If this blog entry is the first time you’re hearing about Washington’s rules, I would recommend reading them and seeing how well you conform to them in our daily lives.

There’s a link here:

George Washington finished speaking and he was deluged with applause.  The message had connected and after the dessert reception and candle lit tours we boarded busses back to Washington, D.C. and each of us was handed bracelet that said “Deeds Not Words.”

How do your deeds speak for you?

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