GEA President Gary Robinette

A Message From President Robinette

					My acceptance speech at the state convention was based upon the message designed into my State President 
					pin. The pin displays the message, "Fidelity, Brotherhood, Integrity".  Here is what I had in 
					mind to convey to all of us, myself included, as members of the Georgia Elks Association.
					Fidelity — Think of marital fidelity, and what it meant to take a vow. Think of the consequences if we 
					break that trust. Then, think back to the oath we all swore when we accepted our obligation at initiation. 
					Every time we witness a new member being initiated, we should once again reaffirm in our minds the 
					sanctity and relevance of the words we once spoke before the altar, with one hand raised, and the other 
					placed over our hearts. Fidelity means being true to a person, a principle, a nation, or an organization.
					Becoming an Elk embodies all of these elements. If we violate the obligation we swore to embrace as Elks, 
					we are not worthy as members. We become fomenters of discord, and contribute to setting our fellow 
					members against one another. This is wrong. Likewise, if we all embrace and practice what we swore 
					to, we can experience the comfort and assurance of mutual trust. Fidelity is the pinnacle of our creed.
					Brotherhood — Perhaps the greatest asset of our organization is the sense of brotherly love that we can 
					experience as members if we look upon each another with respect and affection. It sort of automatically 
					comes with the package as a great tradition of membership. Alongside of brotherly love is justice, or 
					fairness, if you will. Elks are unique in this fashion. When Elks bond in friendship and purpose, there 
					is nothing that cannot be accomplished. I told the story of one time years ago, when I hosted a tribal 
					chief from Swaziland for two days in my home. There is a word in his language, "singnaba" that means 
					"together". When people of this nation part company with one another, they shake hands and say "singnaba".
					It is a way of recognizing that they are bonded in their citizenship, and conveys brotherhood. 
					I will never forget the warmth I felt as we were parting, and he wrapped that big black hand of his 
					around mine and said, "singnaba". When he did so, he was looking directly at me, and he was 
					smiling — with his eyes. It was spoken so easily, and was so real. We can do this.   
					Integrity — Honesty, truthfulness, trustworthiness, dignity of word and deed. All of these are embodied 
					in personal integrity. My father taught me at an early age that the one thing that can never be 
					taken from you is your personal integrity. If you make a promise to an Elk, keep it. Men and women of 
					true integrity are believed and trusted. One point I made in my speech was if you are going to talk 
					about another Elk, tell the truth. If you spread something about a member that is untrue, nothing can 
					later correct what you have done to harm the reputation and feelings of another. Worse, many who hear 
					it will believe it. Think in terms of practicing charity of the heart and mind.  In our lodges, we tend 
					to get so familiar that we don't necessarily treat each other with the same kindness and respect as we 
					would a stranger. This is backwards when you think about it.  Now let me throw in the hardest part that 
					kind of threads its way through all of this — forgiveness. Forgiveness is biblical. If someone has 
					wronged you, and they come to you with a sincere apology, you are required to forgive, put the matter 
					behind you, and move on. Trust can be regained here, and friendship recovered. There is something 
					special about such an encounter that benefits both parties. I promised you that I would seek the high 
					road, and I intend to keep that promise.  Well, there you have it: Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love, 
					and Fidelity, all summarized in the three words on the pin. When my term is completed, I hope to leave 
					a legacy of unification, harmony, and peace. We can do this together.