As you sit trembling in your bunker while awaiting the black market price of toilet paper to go sky high so you can cash in on those pallets of Charmin you snagged from Sam's Club, you might want to know what various grand lodges have decided to do for the next few weeks about Coronavirus warnings.
Every state in the U.S. is being affected as governors and various state health agencies issue their own recommendations or bans on large meetings, so obviously those, in turn, influence what Masonic groups are doing.
I had been compiling a growing list of grand lodge Coronavirus announcements for a couple of days, but it was quickly becoming unmanageable.
(As I type this, I'm sitting in a Grand Lodge meeting in Indiana discussing this very subject. For instance, the GL of Pennsylvania was among the first to shut down all Masonic activity unilaterally statewide. Illinois just followed suit this morning, and I post their message just as an example.)
Fortunately, a very helpful Brother has been updating his own website list of Masonic jurisdictions worldwide and their official reactions and announcements concerning COVID 19. To get a sense of what other Masonic jurisdictions are advising their members, check the Forthright website at: Freemasonry and COVID-19 Updates HERE. The site's author has asked on Reddit and elsewhere to be apprised of new developments as they happen so he can update his list.
As always, check with your own grand lodge and state officials for the latest guidelines locally.
Masonic meetings, despite what some of us might believe, are not rocket surgery. We're not voting on flying the serum to Alaska. We're not saving the world this week by deciding whether to fix the lodge toilet or pay the electric bill. Neither is the world going to end if a candidate has to wait for a degree until your state sounds the 'All Clear' klaxon.
The ONLY codicil I might recommend grand masters everywhere make allowances for are for Masonic funerals, since those cannot be predicted. Decisions about lodge participation in Masonic funerals should probably be left to the discretion of lodge Masters, funeral homes and the families of the bereaved. But be aware, THAT IS MY OPINION. Your grand lodge has to make those calls, and I'm just an internet bigmouth.
That said, no one wants to be the Master of some lodge that decides "nothing to see here, and my grand master is an idiot," holds their pancake breakfast, fish fry or table lodge anyway, infects twenty-five visiting firemen or elderly members, and appears a month later under a screaming headline 'Officials Pinpoint Masonic Virus After Lodge Breakfast Outbreak!' I'm sure the Legionnaires wish they could shuck off their associated disease name from the strain of pneumonia that innocently hit their Philadelphia convention 44 years ago, too.
Cabals use teleconferencing, too (I know mine does), so it's time we all learn to use them, at least for a while. Let's hope all of this hysteria passes as quickly as it was upon us all. "Social distancing" (a creepy bit of new nomenclature I find disturbing) is the very antithesis of what Freemasonry is. We treasure our one-on-one connections with our Masonic brothers. In fact, it is the most important aspect of fraternity — fellowship, friendship, human contact.
An opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal today by Christopher Mims expresses the disturbing effects that being barricaded in our homes and reduced to nothing but online conversations and meetings has on human beings.
Isolation is bad for every one of us. Alone is no way for anyone to live.
From The Internet Can’t Save Us From Loneliness in Pandemic:
Read the entire article HERE.
Meanwhile, does anyone know where a poor, unprepared, regular slob can pick up a roll of toilet paper for less than $75? I think my neighbor is trying to gouge me. He told me a couple from Kansas City was just here eying it this morning, so I need to act fast...
(Image shamelessly stolen from Redditor 'anywhere anyhow'. It's become one of the most hotly circulated Masonic meme images of the month.)
UPDATE: 4:00 PM Friday March 13, 2020
Just for the guys in my own backyard, the Grand Master of Indiana has just issued the following message at 3:45PM via email and Facebook:
Dear Brothers All:
The Grand Lodge of Indiana had been closely monitoring the quickly changing developments related to the pandemic outbreak of Corona Virus (Covid-19). We have been observing the suggestions and directives of the World Health Organization and are now in consideration of our Members and their families I am suspending all Masonic activities until the end of April. This included all Area Conferences, Treasurer and Secretary Conferences, rededications, dedications and Lodge meetings. Memorial services should be done and attended as is necessary and appropriate per the Worshipful Master.
During this time the Worshipful Master and the Lodge will not be penalized for not have a meeting, but many things can still be accomplished as far as the business side is such as Annual Reports and the Grand Master’s Award are concerned. The officers should communicate and do any business as necessary through any means possible. The Annual Communication registration and event on May 19, 2020 will continue as planned.
If you have any questions, please feel free to call or contact myself, Richard J. Elman, the Grand Secretary or the Grand Lodge office. This is not a time to panic but is a time to be vigilant about the health and safety of you, your family and your Lodge Members. Most importantly, remember your Masonic vows and support your Brothers and their families in the spirit of Freemasonry through this unprecedented situation.
We will continue with updates as they become available and hope to do so weekly. Stay health my Brother and God Bless!!
Sincerely and fraternally,
Kenneth Roy, Jr.