The fourth principle in Benjamin Franklin’s Thirteen Virtues is that of Resolution. Good Brother Franklin defined it as, “Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.” It is to this end that I write this article, in which I attempt to focus our collective thoughts for the betterment of the Craft, and the improvement of yourself.
Resolve to Perform What You Ought
There once was a time when a man’s word was enough to bond. Legal charters, drawn papers, lawyer fees…they were all accouterments to the underlying promise that with a word and a handshake it was understood that the giver and receiver were in agreement before God and Man. There was honor involved, respect, trust, and expectations (of a good meme), and a man would sooner cut off his own foot than break such an agreement. “My word is my bond,” was a battle cry as much as a declaration, and men took it to the daily fight with enthusiasm. These were Men of Action—our first action heroes if you will. And why was this the case?
When an agreement was reached men resolved to meet their end. Whether the deal was concerning a financial transaction, work promised, or just the promise of loyalty; once that promise was made the resolution was set in stone. So, men performed what they ought out of obligation to their own sense of honor, and for general public respect. It was as much a currency as gold, and on more than one occasion: held more weight. To resolve what you ought meant that they fulfilled their obligation no matter the cost.
Perform Without Fail What You Resolve
We’ve all read about martyrs to one cause or another. Some gave their lives for something holy while others gave their lives for a principle. No matter how you look at it, the martyr performed without fail what they resolved to do…ultimately.
There’s something to be said for a person who finishes what they’ve committed to. I’m going to single out one of our Brethren with whom I’ve had personal experience in this regard. Now, normally I’m not one to publicly draw a person from the crowd and turn the spotlight on them for the sake of embarrassing them; in this case, I believe that the example supports the subject matter rather well, so bear with me.
Worshipful Brother Matt Nelson once admitted to me that he longed to see our Lodge thriving as THE working Lodge in Utah. Committing his time and energies to the Craft excited others (myself included) and propagated a period of growth within Damascus Lodge #10 that is, in my opinion, unparalleled to this date. This task was something he resolved to see through, and I can say definitively that Worshipful Brother Matt Nelson is a man whose word I can respect because I’ve seen his resolution in action. He is by far one of the most outstanding Brothers I know of in Masonry due to his dedicated resolve. Hopefully, he won’t become a martyr to it.
There are many others who I’ve met since this event to which I refer who have shown similar zeal for the institution and a stalwart determination appropriate to the subject matter of this article. Too many for me to recite each and every person’s individual stories. Suffice it to say, these are Men among men.
Too often in Today’s society, a man takes on responsibility rather flippantly. Someone asks for something to be done, and a man says he’ll do it only to be caught up in Life’s turbulence. The task becomes secondary to the easier duties or falls to the wayside having been unseated by a more substantial commitment made without realizing one’s limitations. It is a rare talent to be able to recognize when you can’t fulfill and resolve that which you are being asked to commit. An additionally extraordinary talent is to be able to diplomatically refuse the added responsibility because you know you cannot perform without fail what you want to resolve.
We, as Freemasons, are thought of as movers and shakers. We are free-thinkers who (in the past) have shaped entire cultures due to our resolve. Brilliant men have sat underneath the Apron and Square and Compasses banner to resolve unjust things. And yet, how much would have been accomplished had these men just sat? Let us take note of the Pages of History and be Action Heroes—Men who “Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.”