ON MATTERS OF DISCIPLINE IN THE NOBLE
ON MATTERS OF DISCIPLINE IN THE NOBLE ORDER (MAY 2008)
My dear brothers and sisters,
In this month’s letter, I wish to remind ourselves of some matters of discipline that we need to take notice of and work at, as they impinge on our image as an Order of noble men and women.
I am taking these in two parts namely discipline within the chamber when we meet and discipline out of the chamber, especially when we are in uniform. Regarding discipline in the chamber I wish to touch on the following:
From the moment the gavel goes for officers’ preliminary procession, the ritual says there must be as little distraction as possible within the chamber. This atmosphere in the chamber should prevail during the performance of the entry ritual and throughout the opening ceremonies until the time for business. This is so important that we are asked to ignore mistakes made during this period and only comment on them (preferably by the GK, NL or the Reader and Lecturer) during “good of the order”. A similar atmosphere should exist in the chamber during the closing ritual. Could GKs and NLs explain to members the need to keep the atmosphere solemn during this part of the meeting?
It is important for all to remember that the person in charge of meetings in the chamber is either the GK or the NL (RGK, RNL, SK or GL). It is wrong therefore for senior brothers or sisters to attempt to shout on or belittle these leaders even when they go wrong. Let us criticise when necessary but let us also do it rationally and in dignity and refrain from acts that would tend to undermine the authority and respect of our leaders. To avoid such situations, GKs and NLs should endeavour to prepare adequately for their meetings and be mindful of their language and the way they conduct themselves at meetings. Let us be guided by mutual respect for each other.<br>
Our Order is lucky in the sense that it continues to attract young people some of whom are very well qualified in their professions and hold key positions in the places of work. It is a matter of discipline that as seniors in the Order we learn to treat relatively new members some of whom may be quite young with respect and listen to them when they have something to say. Let us understand that they have grown up in a world that is different from ours in many ways and where the pace of change is much faster than what many of us knew and so are bound to do things differently. Let us correct them when necessary but not shout or talk harshly to them. If work has to be done or some committees have to be served on, let competence and capacity to deliver guide our selection rather than seniority. In the same vein our younger brothers must learn to be patient and respectful to senior brothers who may not be as academically qualified or financially sufficient as they are and perhaps also understand that not every new idea is workable.
Outside the chamber and in uniform could we consider the following? When we have to attend Church services, could we agree to arrive at least 15 minutes before time, congregate in one place and all put on our regalia at the same time? Could we then process into the church together before the clergy (in situations where we are not allowed to escort the clergy?). After Mass, could we be patient for the congregation to leave before we process out the same way we came in and then take off our regalia together? I am aware that some Councils do this. I think it is beautiful and maybe we can all learn from them.
Let us note that each time we go on procession, the line up is according to rank with substantive office holders following honorary office holders of the same rank. A key thing to remember, especially when in uniform is the discipline to obey instructions irrespective of rank when given by the appropriate authority.
Another area that we need to improve discipline is when we gather for lunch or dinner after some activity. I can’t say whether it’s sometimes a question of lack of self-discipline or lack of patience. But at some such functions the behaviour of some of our Brothers and Sisters, clamouring and rushing for food is appalling to say the least. Could those who behave as such rethink their behaviour? In this respect could I also ask that we try to reduce as much as possible our visibility at beer bars and other such places when we close from Council meetings and other functions and are still in our uniform? The tendency among groups of brothers and sisters going on their own to bars to drink after Marshallan functions is creating image problems for the Order and we should all try to do something about it.
Let us demonstrate self discipline in all aspects of our Marshallan lives remembering that we, collectively and individually are the KEY to whatever image the society and the Church has of the Noble Order.
SIR KT BRO. EDDIE PRAH