Lodge brothers

From here in East Texas, I read the Thursday Tribune-Herald opinion piece by Tommy F. Chapman, “Philanthropy, making good men even better are key to Masonic mission.” I happen to be a Mason myself and have lived in Longview for 15 years, though I am a “Kansas Mason” due to being born and raised in the Sunflower State. But, as the saying goes: “I got to Texas as quick as I could.” Thus I am a Kansas Mason who lives in Texas.

As a Mason, I can visit any regular and legitimate Lodge worldwide. I’ve visited Lodges in Waco, Dallas and most in the East Texas region, as well as lodges from South Dakota straight south to Texas and even a couple in Louisiana and New Mexico. Wherever I go, I find an old adage of my late dad’s proves to be true. He’d tell me: “Jimmy, where you find Masons, you find friends.” Indeed. I joined at age 18 and have been a Mason 37 years (age 55) and it was the best decision I ever made to join.

I’ve met men such as Masonic Brother “Buzz” Aldrin, second man to walk on the moon, and actor and Masonic Brother Buck Taylor, who played in “Gunsmoke” and in the films “Deadwood” and “Hell or High Water.” Just for trivia’s sake, I have attended Lodge meetings in Deadwood, South Dakota.

It’s sort of a shame that unscrupulous novelists have written phony stories about Masonry which have sinister overtones. Nothing could be further from the truth. Masonry has affiliated groups for the wives/significant others; boys and girls; and we prize family-oriented activities.

I very much liked Mr. Chapman’s column in the Tribune-Herald. I just felt it necessary to add that as a young man I joined Masonry for the friendships and brotherhood. As a 5th generation Mason, I’m proud I joined. And although health prevents me from attending the annual statewide meeting of Masons in Waco, I wish everyone there well.

James A. Marples, Longview

About those fires

President Trump recently tweeted that billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for forest fires that, with proper forest management, would never happen. However, it’s important to take note of a 2015 issue of the U.S. Forest Service’s journal, “Fire Management Today,” specifically “Climate Change: The Future is Here.” This publication states that “increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation and snowmelt patterns are increasing the severity and size of wildfires in the West.”

Hotter temperatures evaporate soil moisture and dry vegetation, making it more likely to burn. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that, over the last three decades, human-caused climate change has doubled the area affected by forest fires in the Western United States.

Climate change should be a bridge rather than a wedge issue. I’m heartened the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act was introduced in both the House and Senate during the last session, the first bipartisan climate bill in nearly a decade. This legislation is expected to be reintroduced in the new Congress. Let’s work together on climate solutions.

Terry Hansen, Hales Corners, Wisconsin