One of the mistakes made in Masonry by our grandfathers and great grandfathers was to never answer the critics of the Craft. Turn the other cheek and keep your mouth shut was the motto of many who came before us.
But this was a serious mistake because it only led the majority of the public watching and listening on the sidelines to think that perhaps there was some truth to the outlandish claims made by the loudmouth detractors of Masonry. After all if the claims against Masonry were false why would Masons allow them to be repeated over and over again without refutation? Unfortunately this line of reasoning has lead to the acceptance of many false doctrines.
Perhaps our forebears were reacting and influenced by the stories told about the Morgan Affair. If you are not familiar with the full story of this tumultuous time in Masonic history I would recommend “From Batavia To Baltimore” by Stephen Dafoe in Volume 15 of the Heredom publication of The Scottish Rite Research Society. To our merit the Mason of today will be much less tight lipped. He will not allow the profane to get away with lies and slander.
The Pursuit of Truth can be a sticky and nasty affair. While you have what you think is a portion of the truth others will tell you that you are wrong and that they have not only the correct path but also the correct version of the facts that led them there. Which is all well and good for nobody possesses the whole truth, nobody is perfect and nobody is without fault. When the police interview eyewitnesses to a crime scene they often times get slightly different versions from each person. That’s because we don’t always see things and interpret things in the same manner with the same result. But some of the true believers believe that they can bully their way into winning the debate. The scream and yell and employ many an Ad Hominem argument. That causes the timid to keep it to themselves and the heartier to be very wary of stepping on the bully’s toes.
The very fact that we are Masons should put us into a constant search mode. We are by nature a society that is constantly in the pursuit of Truth. We refuse to lead lives as cowards, fools, non-thinkers or libertines. And that’s as it should be. For what is a Mason, what has he got, if not a vision and a mission then he has naught. As we as Masons empower our vision into a mission we often times come in conflict with those inside and outside the Craft. And when that happens it is important to remember also that how we handle ourselves is also another measure of a man as a Mason. For Masonry teaches us to be kind, well-mannered, soft spoken, tolerant and a gentleman in all things.
Lest anyone interpret my silence at my recent scolding and dressing down as acceptance of the Truth the way the other fellow sees it, rest assured I have only been trying to practice the virtues of being a Mason. And I take great solace in the words of Manly P. Hall.
“The situation, should remind Freemasons that they have something to live for…….We have the power to build worlds, the wisdom to govern them, and the divine right to inherit the earth and preserve it in good condition in order to pass it on to our descendants as a place of happiness, usefulness and security for thousands of years to come. We are not asking for treason or disobedience, only…….that in every way possible, when they have the choice, stand for truth, and, if necessary, take a little punishment for it.”