The Imperial Potentate sent an email on July 2 about the vote to lift the requirement that Shriners in Arkansas only be Master Masons. There has been mixed reaction to this decision. I am tired of talking about it. Many people think this will lead to the whole of Shrinedom slipping away from any sort of Masonic connection. Some think this has been the plan all along. Others think it is the worst thing that could happen to the Shrinedom and Freemasonry, and even others think it is high time the split occurred.
I don’t really mean to be dismissive. I care a lot about this issue. Those of us who care are upset and want to see resolution. I have a preference for how I want this situation to end, but really what is most important is having some sort of sensible resolution so we can all just get on with figuring out what it all means. Presently we are at an impasse. Let’s just figure it out and move on.
Personally, I can’t imagine wanting to be one of the people who is likely to be known as the one who irreparably separated the Shriners and the Freemasons. Who wants to carry to his grave that stigma? I am blessed to not have such a big ego that I need to be right all the time, so I see all sorts of possible solutions that do not involve ego-preserving tactics. I have said this before. Being victorious in this dispute is not the same as being right. These men will not be known as ones who did great things, but as being the ones who undid a historical and special connection. Like everyone else, they will be dead for a whole lot longer than they will be alive, and that is a long time to be remembered negatively. I guess big egos demand it, though.
I digress. This post is not about the Shriners and Arkansas.
As I said, the Imperial Potentate made the announcement of this news on July 2. Lots of people blogged and wrote on various social networking sites about it. That should have been expected. I guess Imperial expected more of a reaction of, “Golly,” and a return to normalcy because Al Madsen sent out a follow-up email the next day asking everyone to stop talking about it and delete their social networking posts in which they discussed the issue.
I am not a particularly smart man. I was not born with the gifts of genius and invention. However, I know that the wrong way to deal with a public information campaign is to release information and then chide people for talking about it. If you release information, you have to expect people to talk about it. He wants people to unsay what they said.
Social networking sites work very much like conversations. If you are talking to someone and accidentally say something that you should not have said, you can apologize and ask the other person not to repeat it, but you cannot unsay it. The words are already out there. What you have to do at that point is figure out how to adapt your messaging so you can achieve your goal. You cannot expect people to mystically suck their words out of other people’s minds. The words are out there. You cannot undo them. You just have to go forward from where you are.
If information gets out that you do not want to get out, you cannot blame the people who talked about it if you are the one who told them about it in the first place without the caveat that they not talk about it. This is like telling secrets to a journalist without stipulating that they are off the record, and then being upset that the secrets end up in the newspaper. You have to set the tone of the conversation, and then be part of the conversation, not demand that people stop talking.
People will talk. I think Imperial has to decide whether they want to be in the room or out of the room when the conversation is happening, because either way, it is happening.
But since we are not allowed to discuss this, let’s just enjoy this picture of a cute puppy yawning.