In quoting the late, renowned United States writer and civil rights activist W.E.B. DuBois, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Consul General to the United States, Howie Prince, has challenged Mechanics worldwide to “set your buckets where you are.”
In delivering the feature address Sunday — at the annual luncheon, at Sirico’s Caterers in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, of the Brooklyn-based Independent United Order of Mechanics (IUOM), Friendly Society, Western Hemisphere, Inc. — Prince said the fraternal organization is as relevant today as the umbrella body was in 1757, when it was founded.
“Your motto speaks of friendship, truth and love to all mankind. So as outsiders, we can appreciate that, above all, you strive to be your brothers’ keeper,” said the consul general, speaking on the topic, “The Impact of Fraternities on Society.”
“Prudence, benevolence and a sense of fair play demand that you extend yourself in a more visible and efficacious way to others around you in the society in which you live,” he added.
“Far too often, we look far and wide to do good and to receive good, when, what we should be doing, is to interface and interact, and be Good Samaritans to the people in our neighborhoods and country,” Prince continued. “W.E.B. Dubois is saying to us all, smartly so, to ‘set our buckets down where we are.’”
Broadly speaking, Prince said fraternal organizations, over the years, have worked assiduously towards, among other things, cooperative insurance, social and political change, patriotism, protection of labor interest and public abstinence.
On the one hand, he said they were revered by their benefactors for their role as friendly societies that ensured sick and death benefits to their members.
But on the other hand, Prince said “their penchant for public abstinence and secrecy, coupled with misunderstood rituals made they greatly feared by large portions of the population.”
Prince said stories of fraternal organizations’ initiation and other ceremonial rituals were “staple tales told to children by parents who themselves refused to take the time necessary to understand and appreciate the Lodge and its craft.”
He said his own recollection of boyhood education on Lodge men included: “Stay away from them; don’t read their black book or it will send you crazy; they deal with and worship the devil; they will sell your soul to the devil.”
But he lamented that there is “a dearth on the availability of literature to properly inform on the fraternal organization, such as friendly and secret societies.”
Nonetheless, he said fraternal organizations are relevant entities in society today, which are “respected by most but feared by people who have not taken the time to understand their functions, actions and modus operandi.
“Lest you forget, your motto defines you as a set-aside group of people to whom friendship, truth and love dictate that you should be friends and truthful to all, not to some,” Prince said. “This is a mandate for you to spread your wings to reach more people in need of friendship, truth and love.
“You are called upon to think globally but to act locally,” he added. “Your motto also dictates that you practice and promote philanthropy, charity and benevolence; and, through your example, society at large will know the meaning of fidelity, benevolence and truth. The forgoing, my brothers and sisters, sets out your charter with humanity.”
As the inheritors of a noble craft, Prince admonished the Mechanics to “live true to your creed, to your motto, to remember that the seed lives in you to remain relevant in a changing society.
“You have made useful and lasting impacts on society,” he said. “Your capacity to be even more impactful is limitless.
“Live true to your motto,” he added. “Add to the availability of literature, so that people can gain greater insights and understanding of your organization.
“Make use of available organizational tools, such as the SWOT analysis, to study yourself inwardly, as well as the external forces that will influence your organization, so that you will be better placed to continue to be relevant and impactful,” the consul general continued.
SWOT analysis (or SWOT matrix) is a strategic planning technique used to help a person or organization identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to business competition or project planning.
Prince noted that the proceeds from the luncheon will go towards scholarships, back-to-school jamboree and mentorship for youths.
“That is admirable,” he declared. “Also, remember that Jesus Christ charged us to provide for the poor, the needy and the shut-in and to treat strangers like friends.
“In your own words, be friendly and truthful to all mankind and, above all, to be our brothers, not only other brethren, but to be our brothers’ keeper,” he added. “Then and only then can you genuinely and truthfully, with no ambiguity in your mouth, recite Psalm 133:1: “’Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.’”