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From the South

By J. Rafisura—Junior Warden

As we all know, the threat of Covid-19 is upon us. We read and hear from all across media platforms that we should not panic, remain calm and that the health authorities are doing everything they can to contain the virus. While it really helps to be calm, it is also good to be proactive and be pragmatic about the situation. This is not the time to be complacent and passive. We have to seek out reliable information that would help us stay calm and at the same time take necessary and appropriate precautions.

As of this writing, The Grand Lodge of California has advised us to take precautionary measures and take guidance from local health authorities. We also learned that the Masonic Homes of California is doing its part in protecting our brothers and sisters by limiting resident visits and gathering in groups to minimize the risk. It is a rapidly evolving situation and risk assessments are changing daily. It is important that we keep informed on a day-to-day basis. The WHO has been ringing the bell loudly and has declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. The threat is real and let us all be reasonably prepared.

Let me therefore join the call to please take precautionary measures such as frequently washing your hands properly with soap and water, avoiding frequently touching of your eyes, nose and mouth (“points of entry”) and staying away from crowds. While we are also a ‘social’ organization, let us also not forget to prioritize health safety among our membership. Let us keep in mind that there will always be another time (or alternatives) for hugs, kisses, handshakes and gathering in large groups in order to socialize. During our recent DOSI, we each had fun with the ‘elbow bumps’ instead of the usual handshake. It is in times like this that social distancing is acceptable and necessary.

According to CDC, the incubation period of the virus is 2-14 days. This means that within this period, a person infected with the virus may not yet experience the symptoms of the disease (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.). During this time, an infected person may still continue to mingle with friends, family, and the general public. With this knowledge, we need to be proactive instead of being reactive. We need to act first before the symptoms become so obvious and it is too late.

As of this writing, seven counties in San Francisco Bay Area region has issued a “Shelter-in-Place” order in several counties including Alameda and Contra Costa counties to slow the spread if this disease. Let us therefore take heed and make this situation count.

As we pause from our ‘labors’, let us take this opportunity to spend quality time with our family, clean that garage or fix that broken window, or perhaps, learn to cook - whatever you fancy. Maybe it is also an opportunity to reflect on what Masonry really means to us, other than the usual Stated Meetings, modes of recognition and ceremonies. Now may be an opportunity to look at our inner selves and examine what our craft has done for us over the years. Have I become a better person because of Masonry? What has Masonry turned me into? What do I need to do to become a better neighbor, son, husband, father, or brother (biological or fraternal)?

Lastly, I wish everyone good health and a productive time as we ride out this challenge with reasonable vigilance and much optimism. Let us keep each other safe and pray for our affected brothers. We are all called to fight in a war against an unseen (and lesser known) enemy. So far, the best way to defeat it is by staying at home and cutting the ‘chain of infection’. Let us therefore move “from labor to refreshment (at home)”! Let us be “asocial” at this time! Will you fight?

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