Tuesday, June 06, 2006

You never stand so tall as when you stoop to help a child

Surfing the Grand Lodge of Georgia website recently I came upon flyers for a rodeo last weekend, sponsored by two Masonic lodges in Georgia.

This article isn't meant to be anti-rodeo, or anti- the lodges that put on the rodeo, or anti- the corporate sponsors. Yee-ha, ride 'em cowboy! Git along, li'l dogie.

This article is about fundraising "for the children."

Accompanying the flyer was a letter from "Rodeo Chairman" Wes Chester. I have no idea if Mr. Chester is a Mason or not; he is not identified as such.

The last line of the letter says, in quotation marks: "A man never stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child."

Nowhere in the letter does it say what the funds generated by the rodeo will be used for. There is the cryptic phrase, "As we state over and over, if you want to see Freemasonry in action, you will see it here. The main thing is the benefits from this event."

The flyer makes it slightly clearer, in tiny italicized print near the bottom: "Note: Proceeds go to Masonic-related activities and charities." But then it muddies the water by also saying the rodeo is sponsored by the Shady Dale Community Club.

What "Masonic-related" activities and charities, you might ask?

The "A man never stands so tall..." phrase in the letter might make you think the proceeds will be going to the Scottish Rite Children's Hospital, since they've been known to use that phrase quite a bit. But if so, why would Blue Lodges be sponsoring the event?

Or, it might be that the proceeds are going to the Shriner's Hospitals, as they've been linked to that phrase, too.

We just wonder.

Why was the phrase about helping children used, when there is absolutely no indication what the proceeds will actually be used for?

The phrase actually doesn't belong to either the Shrine or the Scottish Rite, or to anyone, for that matter.

It's been attributed as a Chinese proverb at SaidWhat.co.uk, and in slightly differing forms ("A man is at his tallest when he stoops to help a child," "You never stand so tall as when you stoop to help a child," etc.) has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln, golfer Bobby Jones, Ann Landers, and Dr. Anthony P. Whitman, whoever he is.

The phrase has been used in fund-raising appeals by:
A North Carolina Masonic Grand Master used the phrase in his Grand Lodge's May-June 2004 newsletter.

A Scottish Rite Mason named Tom Slate, a salesman for Spalding Sporting Goods, used the phrase in 1933 to secure the use of Grant Field from Georgia Tech, according to an article in a 1998 issue of The Technique, GT's student newspaper.

Even the North American Fishing Club used it as bait to get people to attend a fishing contest.

The Shriners claimed it as recently as April of this year in this format: "No person stands as tall as when they stoop to help a child!"

And I found it in a Kiwanis Club memo from 1996, that, as an interesting side note included this passage that should sound familiar to Masons as well as to the Kiwanis members it was addressed to:
Does Kiwanis have a future? I'm firmly convinced that it can have. The only way for this potential to become a reality is for many of us to agree with our new International President: "If it's going to be, it is up to me." We need to stop talking about "What they should do," and start talking about "What we are going to do."

But what is it that we must do? I believe that the most urgent thing is to stop the hemorrhage of members that is sapping the life blood of Kiwanis. "Net membership growth" is not enough, we must learn to retain our members long enough for them to enter the leadership. The 1996 survey of former members is a good place to start. Here are the main reasons that people have been leaving Kiwanis clubs:

* Poor orientation of new members. * Members' time abused. * Poorly planned or managed club meetings. * Club projects did not interest members. * Minimal impact of projects on community issues. * Lack of Kiwanis name recognition. * Insensitivity of some members to race and gender issues.
I know I've digressed a bit, following the phrase through time and space... but to get back to the Big Question: Why did the Rodeo Masons use the phrase in their fund-raising letter sent to other Blue Lodges, and where did the money go?

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  1. If you want to know where the proceeds went, I would suggest contacting the Worshipful Master of Walton Lodge No. 200 and/or the Worshipful Master of Jasper Lodge No. 50. I'm sure that they would be more than happy to answer any questions that you might have.

  2. The lodges have already given all the information they appear to want to give. The proceeds went to "Masonic-related activities and charities." If they wanted us to know any more details, surely they would have given them in the letter and/or flyer.

    — W.S.

  3. Since the federal government only requires that a meager 25% of the poceeds go to charities one can only wonder where the other 75% will be going?

  4. You know, I saw an interesting thing while visiting the USS Yorktown last week. The Patriot's Point Yaarab Shrine Temple & Restaurant Lounge. Yes, you heard me right...they have a restaurant lounge and a happy hour from 4:30pm til 5:30pm. At least their sign said so. I think I know where the other 75% goes...


    PS- If someone wants a retraction of this statement or says it's untrue...All I can say is that you can pound salt for all I care. NO RETRACTION WILL BE ISSUED.

  5. My grandfather, a 33 degree Shriner and Freemoson and all my great uncles have been in the Shrine and Freemason's for aleast forthy years! My grandfather was the mayor of Shady Dale, GA and when I was a little girl I used to attend this Rodeo lol but yes I agree that you can never know enough about what they do and where proceeds go. Everything about my grandfathers life is wrapped up in the Shrine, and for what? Whats the Shrine going to give back to him???? Nothing.

    Mandy Miller,

    Email: gg4life17@aol.com

  6. Mandy wrote:
    Whats the Shrine going to give back to him???? Nothing.

    On the contrary, he's probably getting back the same thing countless Shriners have told me they're getting back .. the satisfaction of helping children in need.


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